A WIDOW has called for more research into electronic cigarettes after they were linked to the death of her husband.
Terry Miller, 57, had used “e-cigarettes” for 10 months before his death from lung disease. Now his widow Glynis fears the oil in the battery-operated device, which was found in his lungs, may have killed him.
The devices, which are widely used around the world as an alternative to real cigarettes, contains a cartridge of liquid nicotine. This is heated and the user inhales vaporised droplets of the drug and breathes out a mist rather than smoke.
Mr Miller, of Keir Hardie Avenue, Wardley, Gateshead, suffered from the lung disease – severe lipoid pneumonia – and his wife believes his death may be linked to using the device.
Speaking after an inquest into his death recorded an open verdict, she said: “I am aware that e-cigarettes don’t have chemicals like normal cigarettes but I question why the oil from the device got into his lungs. This oil grew cells so what damage might that have done?”
The Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association, describes the cigarettes as “far safer than ordinary ones” and says they have been “tested vigorously” in various scientific studies around the world.
It says that as all users were former smokers, any damage to their lungs was going to be caused by that.
The inquest heard that there was no specific evidence to confirm that the device had caused Mr Miller’s death.
But a sudden deterioration in his health meant that it couldn’t be ruled out. Coroner Terence Carney heard that people with severe lipoid pneumonia deteriorate over a number of years but in Mr Miller’s case it was a few weeks.
Dr Rob Allcock, who treated him at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, believes his condition could be linked with the use of the device, which contained a mixture of nicotine and some oil. He echoed Mrs Miller’s call for more research to be carried out
“There’s extensive literature in the medical world on damage to the lungs due to inhaling oil, which looks very similar to his disease,” he said.
“There’s some limited research merely mentioning what the chemical composition of “electronic” cigarettes is, but there’s no systematic research assessing the overall safety of inhaling these chemicals deep into the lungs over an extended period.”
Gateshead coroner Terence Carney recorded an open verdict because he couldn’t say one way or the other if the device was responsible.
Mrs Miller added: “It may be a contributory factor but we don’t know. Terry used these cigarettes as a substitute for real cigarettes and he thought they were the best thing since sliced bread and recommended them to everyone.
“You can get them over the internet or across the counter in local shops. They do them in different flavours, even chocolate and strawberry.
“The whole family can’t believe he’s gone. He started using them for his health and really thought they were doing him good, so he pushed others to try them. They are sold anywhere and everywhere and I would like to see them more regulated.”
Ailsa Rutter, Director of Fresh, the North East anti-smoking campaign said: “The worry about e-cigarettes is that there is no evidence to say they are safe, and it’s still a risk that smokers are swapping one deadly addiction for another.”