Nicotine e-cigarettes have not been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), nor by any equivalent foreign medicine regulator, as a proven smoking cessation tool. The TGA is part of the Australian Government Department of Health and is responsible for regulating therapeutic goods including prescription medications, vaccines, sunscreens, vitamins and minerals, medical devices, blood and blood products. The role of the TGA is to ensure products meet an acceptable level of safety and quality.
Nicotine e-cigarettes are an unapproved product, meaning that unlike other forms of nicotine replacement therapy, they have not been assessed by the TGA for safety, quality and efficacy. From the 1st of October 2021, you may be able to access the unapproved product if your GP or healthcare practitioner thinks it might be right for you as part of a plan to quit smoking. As they are unapproved, it is essential that they only be used under medical supervision, and as a last-line smoking cessation aid.
Seeking expert advice
Speaking to your GP or healthcare practitioner about your intention to quit smoking will provide you with the opportunity to discuss the proven and safe options and strategies available to help you quit smoking.
Replacing cigarette smoking with an unapproved product that is inhaled into your lungs, like nicotine e-cigarettes, will present an ongoing risk to your lung health. The human lungs are designed to breath in clean air, not toxins and carcinogenic substances of any type.
People may take up nicotine e-cigarettes because they believe these products are “less damaging” than tobacco cigarettes. However, no formal assessment or regulation of nicotine e-cigarettes has been undertaken by the TGA and therefore they cannot be considered a safe or to have less risk than traditional tobacco cigarettes.
The previous ‘safer’ products manufactured since the 1950s by the tobacco industry (i.e. filter, light, low tar cigarettes) have not improved smokers’ health. It also cannot be ignored that nicotine e-cigarettes are primarily manufactured by the tobacco industry.
Proven smoking cessation
If you or someone you know is trying to quit smoking tobacco cigarettes, there are proven, safe and effective methods available to you. Speak to your doctor or a trained Quitline counsellor about strategies to support you on your quit journey including anti-smoking medications and nicotine replacement therapy (sprays, patches, lozenges, chews and gums). Quitting can be tough but seeking support from your healthcare professional will give you the motivation, resources and practical skills you need.
Your GP will discuss with you a range of therapies to assist you to quit. Please note that nicotine e-cigarettes are considered second line therapy by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (the peak body for GPs), which means they should be recommended as a last resort when all other therapies have not been successful.