MEDICAL experts say Australian research into e-cigarettes has backed other findings that it could encourage a transition to smoking, especially among younger people.
Australian Medical Association (WA) president Andrew Miller said a recent Australian National University (ANU) report correlated with other findings that e-cigarettes could encourage a transition to cigarettes.
ANU and University of Melbourne researchers reviewed the worldwide evidence on e-cigarettes and smoking behaviour for the Australian Department of Health.
“We found clear evidence that non-smokers who use e-cigarettes are around three times as likely to take up conventional smoking as their peers who don’t use e-cigarettes,” ANU lead researcher Emily Banks said.
University of Melbourne researcher Olivia Baenziger said the findings supported concerns that “e-cigarettes are a gateway to smoking, especially among young people”.
The study found people who used e-cigarettes were on average three times as likely to take up smoking as those who have not used e-cigarettes.
“E-cigarettes could undermine a wonderful smoke-free start in life,” Professor Banks said.
“Avoiding e-cigarettes in non-smokers is vital to keeping progress going against smoking.”
The researchers said there was limited evidence e-cigarettes helped people give up smoking and that ex-smokers using e-cigarettes are more than twice as likely to relapse.
“Most people who give up smoking successfully don’t use any products like patches or medication to do it – they do it by themselves, for example by going cold turkey,” Prof Banks said.
The Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA) has invited feedback until November 6 on an interim decision on the regulation of e-cigarettes containing nicotine, and nicotine fluids for vaping.
The proposed changes would mean that specific nicotine containing products could only be supplied with a doctor’s prescription.
Dr Miller said AMA welcomed TGA’s recognition of the risks of using e-cigarettes and lack of evidence for their role as a smoking cessation aid.
“The current advice from the National Health and Medical Research Council is that there is insufficient evidence that e-cigarettes are effective in helping smokers to quit,” he said.
“There is also increasing evidence that e-cigarettes can have harmful health effects, such as increasing the risk of respiratory and cardiovascular disease.”
The Federal Government plans to ban imports of nicotine-based e-cigarettes without prescriptions from January.
But Wanneroo resident Angus Ladyman-Palmer, 21, claims legislating against e-cigarettes would result in more smokers returning to cigarettes.
Angus Ladyman-Palmer of Wanneroo, using a Caliburn Pod Vape System. Angus wants to see vaping legalised in Australia. Credit: David Baylis/Community News
Mr Ladyman-Palmer said he hoped the government and TGA would recognise the benefits of vaping as a quitting tool for cigarette smokers.
He said the prescription plan was flawed as the poisons schedule prohibited Australian business premises from selling nicotine or nicotine juices for vaping.
“We need to ditch the script as it is unreasonable especially being forced to only buy from pharmacies when they don’t even sell a product that we need,” he said.
The WA Health Department has also invited feedback on a review of its tobacco products law until November 6.
The Federal Department of Health said although scientists were “still learning about e-cigarettes, they cannot be considered safe” because they contained hazardous substances.
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