Lung Foundation Australia has welcomed the precautionary approach outlined by a parliamentary committee’s recommendations for electronic cigarettes, following an inquiry into their use and marketing in Australia.
Lung Foundation Australia Chairman and leading respiratory physician, Professor Christine Jenkins, commended the committee for recommending that the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) continue overseeing electronic cigarettes as a therapeutic good; and for the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) to review evidence on the risks and benefits every two years.
“E-cigarettes are relatively new and the long-term health impact remains largely unknown. With what we know about the impacts of cigarette smoking today that we wish we had known years ago, taking this precautionary approach until we gain a deeper understanding of the long term health impacts is critical,” Professor Jenkins said.
“While we understand there is a push for e-cigarettes to play a role in smoking cessation, the evidence for their use in this manner is not yet clear. Continued regulation and ongoing research into the risks and benefits will ensure any decisions are informed by the latest evidence,” she said.
Professor Jenkin’s commended the committee for observing the advice of almost all the independent health groups in Australia who provided a submission to the inquiry recommending caution.
“Given the growing evidence of e-cigarette use as a precursor to smoking in young people i,ii, regulation and ongoing research to continually review their safety and efficacy is crucial.
“Smoking rates amongst young people in Australia are amongst the lowest in the worldi,ii – it is pleasing to see the government heeding caution to ensure this is not jeopardised,” she said.
Professor Jenkins also commended Deputy Chair of the committee, Steve Georganas, for highlighting Australia’s obligation under the World Health Organisation Framework Convention On Tobacco Control to mitigate tobacco industry influence on the matter.
Lung Foundation Australia also supports the committee’s recommendation for a national approach to the regulation of non-nicotine electronic cigarettes.
The Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand is currently in the process of developing a report that will further extend the discussion on this matter, and Lung Foundation Australia looks forward to this being available.
A joint submission for the inquiry from Lung Foundation Australia and Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand can be viewed here.
i Soneji S, Barrington-Trimis JL, Wills TA, Leventhal AM, Unger JB, Gibson LA, et al. Association Between Initial Use of e-Cigarettes and Subsequent Cigarette Smoking Among Adolescents and Young Adults, A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Pediatrics. Published online June 26, 2017.
ii NHMRC CEO Statement: Electronic Cigarettes (e-cigarettes). Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council; 2017 [Accessed 29 June 2017] Available from
iii Tobacco Control key facts and figures. 29 June 2016 03 July 2017].