Western Sydney Local Health District toxicologist A/Prof Naren Gunja has clarified the myths and facts around e-cigarettes, following the recent spate of vaping-related illnesses and deaths in the USA.
An e-cigarette is a device which heats liquid to create vapour. Users inhale the vapour which is known as ‘vaping’. The vapour is combined with liquid flavouring.
Selling liquid nicotine for e-cigarettes is illegal in Australia.
So what do we need to know about e-cigarettes and vaping?
E-cigarettes can be harmful
“Many people think vaping is safer but there are a few things people should know,” Dr Gunja said.
“E-cigarettes may seem safer, but they may contain harmful chemicals that are being inhaled by users.
E-cigarettes are not ‘safe’
“E-cigarettes containing nicotine are very unsafe for children, pregnant women and non-smokers. Nicotine is very addictive and can damage developing brains and lungs,” Dr Gunja said.
“Doctors in the USA have linked seven deaths and several hundred cases of acute lung injury to vaping in the last month alone. These cases may be associated with the chemicals being inhaled in e-cigarettes.”
What is the law about e-cigarettes in Australia?
“Nicotine is scheduled as a poison and it is illegal to sell liquid nicotine in Australia,” Dr Gunja said.
“Currently there is insufficient evidence to class e-cigarettes as a quit smoking product.”
How can people reduce the harms of smoking and e-cigarettes?
“The best option for all smokers is to seek professional help to quit nicotine all together,” Dr Gunja said.
“There are many quit treatments proven to help you stop, including medicines and counselling.”
The best support options for quitting are:
- Talking to your GP or pharmacist
- Calling the Quitline on 13 78 48
- The I Can Quit website (www.icanquit.com.au)
- Downloading the My Quit Buddy app (https://www.health.gov.au/resources/apps-and-tools/my-quitbuddy-app)