Legalise Vaping – Australia (LV-A) today highlighted misleading and incorrect claims in a Cancer Council WA and Curtin University study about the purported risks of allowing smokers to access safer nicotine delivery products like e-cigarettes. The study, funded by WA government agency Healthway and published in the International Journal of Drug Policy, uses surveys on teenagers to claim that vaping acts as a gateway to smoking cigarettes.
“Study author Dr. Michelle Jongenelis is right to say that e-cigarettes are not completely safe.” Notes Brian Marlow, Campaign Director for LV-A. “However, the UK Royal College of Physicians estimates that these devices are at least 95% less harmful than smoking. This is why nicotine vaping has been embraced as a harm reduction and smoking cessation measure by leading public health agencies in the western world including Public Health England. The adult smoking rate in the England is now 14.4%. In Australia, 15.2% of adults smoked according to the 2017-2018 ABS National Health Survey.
“Australia is alone among western developed countries in denying smokers access to legal nicotine solutions for vaping, while cancerous tobacco cigarettes are readily available.
“The study uses survey data of teenage non-smokers who had experimented with e-cigarettes and those who had not. It found that just 1 in 5 teens who had experimented with an e-cigarette said they would probably or definitely also try a cigarette.
“All this tells us is that teenagers like to experiment and the teenagers who experiment with vapes are more likely to be the same ones who experiment with cigarettes. This says nothing about whether they would or would not have experimented with smoking if e-cigarettes were not available.
“We already have real-world evidence on teenage vaping. E-cigarettes have been widely available in the UK since the start of this decade. A recent UK government report found that vaping by young people who have never smoked was rare. Only 0.8% of young never-smokers are current vaper, 0.1% vaped more than once a week and not a single never smoker reported vaping daily.
“Legalising nicotine vaping with world-class regulatory framework can ensure that e-cigarettes aren’t advertised or sold to minors, while ensuring that smokers can easily access a safer way to satiate their nicotine cravings that adds years to their lives.
“Australia’s ongoing prohibitionist approach based on scare-mongering about the baseless gateway theory only puts Australian smokers’ lives at risk.”