E-cigarette concerns as calls to ban vaping grow

  • Video report by ITV News Health Correspondent Emily Morgan

An awful lot has been written about e-cigarettes in the last few months and given the contradictory messages coming from a huge array of people it’s no wonder people are confused.

The question that crops up again and again is: are they safe?

And the answer is simple, we don’t know.

There has been very little research into the effects of vaping, that’s because it’s only been around relatively recently.

No one has done a long term study of people who vape so what scientific evidence there is isn’t conclusive.

I spoke to Professor Jonathan Grigg from Queen Mary University, who has led research into inhaling vapours.

Although his study was restricted to tissue cells and animals, he found that long-term use of e-cigarettes could cause lung disease.

He says because there hasn’t been extensive research into humans vaping, the government’s position on it is "inexplicable".

Are e-cigarettes harmful? Credit: ITV News

Professor Grigg said we should take a precautionary approach to vaping and not encourage people to use them. Other countries do, so why don’t we?

Public Health England (PHE) does encourage smokers to switch to vaping. It says using using e-cigarettes is 95% safer than smoking tobacco.

Of course, there is indisputable evidence that cigarettes kill, so getting anyone to stop smoking is always beneficial.

But should the government body be encouraging them to vape instead when there is no evidence to suggest they are 100% safe?

E-cigarettes are banned in countries around the world. Credit: ITV News

Yes, it says, vapes are regulated, safe and there’s no evidence to suggest otherwise.

Glynis Miller disagrees and has called for the government here to ban them.

Her husband died suddenly nine years ago and she claims vaping killed him.

He died of lung disease and an X-ray showed up oil particles on his lung. Glynis claims vaping is the only thing that can have caused it.

The coroner at his inquest recorded an open verdict and she can’t prove her claims but thinks people who vape are being lulled into a false sense of security by the government.

Many states in the US have indeed banned them after a spate of deaths there linked to vaping.

E-cigarettes are still a relatively new product. Credit: ITV News

Other countries have done the same, including Brazil and India, so why don’t we do more?

PHE are clear on this. Anything that could make former smokers return to cigarettes is a ‘no go’. Professor John Newton says he does not want people, who now vape, to go back to smoking.

There are an awful lot of question marks over this issue. The biggest of all is what will inhaling chemicals over a long period of time do to the human body?

Professor Grigg thinks he has the answer but until he tests his theory on volunteer vapers over a number of years we simply won’t know.

It is surely now time to do just that.