'Plenty of reservations' over harmlessness of vaping - expert

Vaping in New Zealand is booming, with around 200,000 of these tobacco-free smokers nationwide - but is it as harmless as it seems?

The Ministry of Health says retailers can't sell to under-18s or claim vaping helps you quit cigarettes. Despite this, many Kiwis are embracing the vape, seeing it as 'less harmful' than a nicotine hit.

Officially it's actually illegal to sell vaping products containing nicotine derived from tobacco, but many shops do anyhow while law enforcement looks the other way.

With a growing number of shops trading online, there's an entire community puffing up nationwide - but experts aren't quite convinced if a huge move to vaping is the right way to go due to all the chemicals contained in the vape.

According to toxicologist Dr Michelle Peace consumers would be right to be concerned, telling Three's The Project if people were simply inhaling water they would be drowning.

Instead, vapes contain a mish-mash of chemicals including old favourite nicotine, vegetable glycerine and propylene glycol.

Dr Peace says scientists are still working out whether vaping is harmful, but she does admit it can help you quit.

"I'm not going to debate that it's effective - I think that using electronic cigarettes is going to be an effective way for a lot of people to stop smoking," she said.

"There's no doubt people need to stop smoking a traditional cigarette."

She wouldn't be okay with kids picking up the vape though, and agreed with host Jesse Mulligan that she had "plenty of reservations" about vaping's current popularity.

Watch the video for the full The Project interview.