Medical professionals clash over vaping safety

Medical professionals can't agree on the safety of vapes, with a pair The AM Show spoke to having wildly different opinions.

Concerns about vaping are currently in the news after six deaths linked to the devices in the United States. 

Health officials believe the deaths could be linked to cannabis vapes due to a thickening agent in THC oil.

The Government is currently looking into regulation on vaping, which Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa says will include a ban on all but three flavours of vape liquid.

Asthma and Respiratory Foundation medical director Dr Stuart Jones told The AM Show there's good reason to be cautious of vaping devices.

"I think that's not healthy for us as a country to be so focused just on the vaping," he said. "It's too early to tell for sure whether they will cause cancer or not. "

But Action for Smokefree Aotearoa chair Professor Robert Beaglehole strongly disagreed and called suggestions vaping could cause cancer "absolutely outrageous".

"Let's not overreact to the real concern amongst children, let's make sure that these effective, safe and much less harmful products are widely available," he said.

Dr Stuart said vaping does damage the lungs, but it's in a different way to traditional cigarettes. He's not sure how that's going to play out long-term.

"I think if we are to use them we're to use them really smartly," he said.

"We need to invest heavily in easy access to culturally appropriate smoking cessation services, which provide a wraparound service including our current medicines which have gone through the safety profiling and then potentially have vaping as part of that."

Prof Beaglehole said people need to be aware of the real harm lurking in the shadows whenever vaping comes up - cigarettes.

"It [vaping] works, it helps people stop, it is much much less harmful than cigarettes and it's very cheap."