OUR reporter’s retail trip to Durham could well have left her needing therapy. After just 14 minutes, she bought one vape that was illegal and another two which contained unregulated or untraceable ingredients that alarmed trading standards officials.

There are some things to be said in favour of vaping: it does seem to be safer than tobacco and so it represents a useful pathway off cigarettes, it doesn’t cause fights or hangovers like alcohol, and it doesn’t contain many calories.


But many vapes do contain a heady cocktail of chemicals the effect of which on the human body science doesn’t yet fully understand – indeed, given the labelling on two of the products, no one has any chance of understanding.

And the illegal vape we bought in Durham centre said that it contained formaldehyde, which the British Government’s website says quite starkly “has been classified as a cancer causing chemical in humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)”.

Yet these devices with their fruity flavours are being marketed at youngsters – 20 per cent of children in the UK tried a vape last year, up 50 per cent on 2022.

We can’t yet tell what effect a lifetime’s exposure to vapes might have, but it is unlikely to be health-giving. One day we could look back on their ubiquity in the way we look back with disbelieving eyes at 1950s or 1960s photographs of people made to look cool with a fag in their hand.

Our investigation shows how easily an illegal vape or devices containing untraceable chemicals can be picked up in Durham. Our people, our children, deserve much better protection than our system currently affords them.