A bacteria expert has warned against the dangers of vaping during the coronavirus outbreak - claiming those inhaling the fumes produced by the cigarette substitute is equivalent to “someone spitting in your face”.

Tom McLean, chief scientific advisor to The Nanotera Group, said “respiratory droplets” contained in the haze created by those using e-cigarettes and vaporizers could lead to the Covid-19 strain of the condition being unintentionally spread.

Mr McLean also said there was evidence that the properties of the vapour caused a weakened immune system - despite ex-smokers often turning to the devices as a ‘safer’ option.

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He told the Glasgow Times: “We’re all used to walking down the street now and it’s one cloud followed by another cloud, followed by another cloud.

“But blowing vapour out is as good as someone spitting in your face. The vapour itself contains respiratory droplets including saliva, mucus and bacteria and when it’s blown out, it travels for a long distance and hangs in the air at head height.”

He added: “If anyone has the coronavirus and are vaping, they’d be spreading it to a lot of people at the same time.”

Mr McLean, who has worked on developing disinfectants and antibacterial handwashes for more than 30 years, said an outright ban on the devices would not work, but urged users to be more considerate when using them in public.

He said: “It has been proven that vaping causes an increase in illnesses such as colds and flu.

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“Nicotine in both vapes and cigarettes paralyses small hairs in your body that cleans out the toxins.”

Mr McLean added: “If you are in a large crowd, move out to the edge of the crowd to have a smoke. If you’re at home, be aware of who is around you.

“It’s not about an outright ban of vaping but it’s about being responsible in when and where you’re vaping, and how many people are about when you are doing it.”