Vaping around children is potentially harmful, a consultant in paediatric respiratory medicine has warned
They have grown in popularity in recent years and are an estimated 200,000 users in Ireland.
“It’s emerging now that passive vaping may have some harmful effects on bystanders,” Professor Des Cox of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland told The Pat Kenny Show.
“So, just like e-cigarettes themselves, we don’t know of all the harmful effects that they may have in the long-term.
“Certainly, there are by-products that are emitted from e-cigarettes that may be harmful to the people around them.”
Many people use vapes as an alternative to cigarettes and, while they are believed to be less harmful than traditional tobacco products, the use of toxins means their use is not risk free.
“Those toxins can potentially be irritating to the airwaves of bystanders,” Prof Cox said.
“There have been some studies over the past 12 - 24 months showing that in younger people who are around people who vape, they have been suffering from bronchitis and coughs and wheeze-type symptoms.”
Ireland introduced a smoking ban in workplaces, such as bars and restaurants in 2004, to protect people from second hand smoke.
Today it is considered a pioneering piece of public health legislation and Prof Cox hinted the State should consider something similar for vaping.
“I think the sensible thing is, because we don’t know a lot about it, we should take a precautionary approach," he said.
"That’s what we do with public health; we try and protect people where there may be some harm down the track… I think especially around more vulnerable people like young children, I think it would be sensible that they’re not exposed to second hand vaping.”
Prof Cox added that Ireland needed to take the health threat posed by vaping more seriously.
“It’s still legal for under-18s to purchase vaping products, so we’re way behind in regards to e-cigarette legislation,” he said.
In November, the Cabinet agreed to introduce legislation to ban those under-18 from buying e-cigarettes.
Main image: Close-up of a man vaping an electronic cigarette. Picture by: Alamy.com