September 9, 2014

Queensland Government to cut the power of e-cigarettes

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

In the legislation to go to Parliament today (Tuesday 9 September), the new laws will be enforced by environmental health officers and includes penalties to retailers who break the rules and an on-the-spot $220 fine for using e-cigarettes in restricted areas.

Lung Foundation Australia’s CEO Heather Allan 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,” Mrs Allan said.

“Concern has been expressed about the small particles inhaled when ‘vaping’ and their health impact, particularly on youth,” she said.

“We simply don’t know enough about how they work and the possible risks or benefits at this stage, which is why we support the cautious, regulated approach to their use being adopted by Queensland Health.

Mrs Allan said Lung Foundation Australia has always taken a precautionary approach where the scientific evidence is inconclusive.

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

Lung Foundation Australia urges 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.

“There is limited evidence to support the use of e-cigarettes for quitting smoking and this is a concern internationally as we have seen from statements coming from recent scientific conferences, such as the European Respiratory Society (ERS) and the World Health Organisation (WHO),” Mrs Allan said.

“It’s important that we acknowledge Queensland Government is leading the way by prioritising the health of future generations and listening to scientific evidence.”

For more information on quitting smoking click here.

 

Background information:

  • We know the best thing smokers can do for their health is to quit, regardless of how old they are or how long they have been smoking. In fact there are immediate health benefits to quitting smoking at any age.
  • There is currently not enough evidence to suggest the use of e-cigarettes as an effective smoking cessation tool over current recommended strategies. This may change.
  • While there are fewer toxins in e-cigarettes than in traditional cigarettes, there are no long-term studies on the safety of e-cigarettes, particularly in relation to small particles in the vapour and their impact on youth.
  • Tobacco smoking remains the single most preventable cause of ill-health and death in Australia. More than 15,000 Australians die each year due tobacco smoking, more than breast cancer, AIDS, traffic and other accidents, murders and suicides combined.1
  • Indigenous Australians are more than two times as likely as non-Indigenous Australians to smoke tobacco.2
  • Tobacco smoking contributes to more deaths and hospitalisations than alcohol and illicit drug use combined.3
  • It is the major cause of many lung diseases, with around 40% of smoking-related deaths due to lung cancer and 27% to COPD.3
  • Research has shown that the most effective way to quit is to get some ongoing support from a health professional, using a combination of counselling and medicine.4

 References:

1) Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Australia’s Health 2006. Canberra: AIHW, 2006, cat no. AUS 73.

2) Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey Report. Drug statistics series no. 25 Cat. No. PHE 145. Canberra: AIHW, 2011. ISSN 1442-7230/ISBN 978-1-74249-188-2.

3) Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2012. Australia’s health 2012. Australian’s health series no. 13. Cat. No. AUS 156. Canberra: AIHW

4) GOLD. Global strategy for the diagnosis, management, and prevention of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Available from: http://www.goldcopd.com