September 12, 2014

New QLD laws blow away the smoke around e-cigarettes

Lung Foundation Australia welcomed the Queensland Government’s decision to treat e-cigarettes the same as tobacco and other smoking products.

In the legislation that went to Parliament on Tuesday 9 September, environmental health officers will regulate the sale and use of e-cigarettes including stiff penalties for retailers who break the rules and an on-the-spot $220 fine for using e-cigarettes in restricted areas.

Lung Foundation Australia urged other states to follow the lead of the Queensland Government and regulate access to e-cigarette devices and components, nicotine-filled cartridges, and non-nicotine cartridges.

Adding to much international discussion, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recently released a report which outlined factors to be considered when making regulations surrounding e-cigarettes, and highlighted the need for more research.

At the ERS congress in Munich this month, research was presented that is sceptical about stated benefits of e-cigarettes.

Some of the studies included an analysis about the short‐term effects which established a link between the devices and asthma and emphysema in a mouse model and another which showed e‐cigarettes were found to cause similar changes to the cells in the lungs to those seen with normal cigarettes.

Like Lung Foundation Australia, the ERS is opposed to the use of unregulated e‐cigarettes, given that “while the short‐term negative impact on health appears not as great as tobacco cigarettes, the long‐term effects of e‐cigarettes are not known”.

The FDA in America recently introduced new guidelines and Lung Foundation Australia’s CEO Heather Allan called on Australian governments to follow suit.

“At the moment there is confusion around who, how and when people can buy or use e-cigarettes,” Mrs Allan said.

“There are different rules and interpretations in different states, and we believe it is vital for the industry as a whole to work together to provide consistent messages around e-cigarettes,” she said.

“Public perception that e-cigarettes are a ‘healthier’ alternative to smoking should not be misunderstood to mean they are ‘healthy’.

“While there are fewer toxins in an e-cigarette than in traditional cigarettes, there are no long-term studies on the safety of e-cigarettes and concern has been expressed about the small particles inhaled when “vaping” and their health impact, particularly on youth.

“We simply don’t know enough about how they work and the possible risks or benefits at this stage.”

Mrs Allan said Lung Foundation Australia’s approach was grounded in scientific principles and took a precautionary attitude while the scientific evidence was inconclusive.

“Research, as it stands now, shows the most effective way to quit smoking was to get on-going support from a health professional, using a combination of counselling and medication,” Mrs Allan said.

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