New research reveals public health blind spot on vaping

New research reveals public health blind spot on vaping

New research to be published in the scientific journal Addictive Behaviors, sheds new light on the reality of e-cigarette use in Australia as a smoking cessation device.

The study, led by Dr Gary Chan from the Centre of Youth Substance Abuse Research at the University of Queensland, found that those likely to vape were past or current daily smokers, and disproves the myth that young people who have not previously smoked are disproportionately using e-cigarettes.

 “The UQ findings clearly demonstrate that in Australia, as in other countries, being a smoker or former smoker was most strongly associated with e-cigarette use, and the study identified a significant correlation between quitting smoking and vaping,” said Brian Marlow, Campaign Director of Legalise Vaping.

“Australian Public Health authorities and regulators must acknowledge their ideological blind spot when it comes to tobacco harm reduction and stop misleading Australians by claiming e-cigarettes are a ‘gateway’ to smoking.

“This study adds further weight to the already more than 55 scientific studies[1] that have shown that e-cigarettes are either a less harmful alternative to cigarettes or can assist people to quit for good.”

The researchers analysed responses from the 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey of 22,354 Australians and estimated approximately 227,000 Australians (1.2% of the population 18 years old or above) were current e-cigarette users and 97,000 vaped daily.

The study found that e-cigarette use among smokers with an intention to quit was significantly associated with a reduction in smoking in the past year, while those who vaped daily quit smoking completely. The researchers noted: “Among smokers, an intention to quit smoking and reported past year reduction in smoking were significantly associated with experimentation and daily use. Recent quitting was also associated with daily use.”

According to the research report, “Australia has taken a more restrictive approach to e-cigarettes and remains the only Westernized democracy that prohibits the sale, and possession or use of nontherapeutic nicotine-containing e-cigarettes.”

The Royal Australia and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists[2] supports risk-proportionate regulation and harm reduction, and so does Drug and Alcohol Nurses of Australasia, who are working on the front line of health care.[3]”

A 2018 CSIRO review[4] said smoke-free products like e-cigarettes and vaporisers do not produce smoke – and as the biggest cancer risk comes from combustion of tobacco – it means they are also better for people around smokers.

“Each year, almost 19,000 Australians[5] are dying from smoking related disease, and we know smoking is the leading cause of cancer in Australia,” Mr Marlow said. 

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Brian Marlow 

Campaign Director, Legalise Vaping Australia  +61 439 138 826