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Evidence vapourised on e-cig safety

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Insufficient evidence exists to support safety claims of electronic cigarettes, according to the National Health and Medical Research Council.

Chief Executive Officer Professor Anne Kelso has released a statement on the latest evidence for the safety, quality and efficacy of e-cigarettes, concluding that: “There is currently insufficient evidence to support claims that e-cigarettes are safe, and further research is required to enable the long-term safety, quality and efficacy of e-cigarettes to be assessed.”

E-cigarettes continue to be promoted as a safe alternative to conventional cigarettes, or as a quit smoking aid. But there is a lack of evidence to support these claims, Professor Kelso said.

While e-cigarettes may expose users to fewer toxic chemicals than conventional tobacco cigarettes, the extent to which this reduces harm to the user has not been determined.

There is also some evidence to suggest that e-cigarettes could act as a gateway to tobacco cigarettes for non-smokers.

“Until evidence of safety, quality and efficacy can be produced, health authorities and policymakers should continue to act to minimise harm to users and bystanders,” Professor Kelso said.

“This particularly applies to young people.”

NHMRC has provided close to $6.5 million for research into e-cigarettes since 2011. Outcomes from this research should be progressively available from June 2018.

Consumers are advised to seek further information about e-cigarettes from reliable sources, such as their State or Territory health department or local quit smoking service.

Chris Johnson