Update on e-cigarettes

14 April 2014

The use of e-cigarettes is certainly a topical issue and no doubt will continue to spark debate in the community in the future.  Cancer Council WA has always strived to ensure that the information we provide is based on the best available evidence.  In the case of e-cigs the jury is still out, we don’t believe there is currently sufficient evidence on their comparative risks or benefits, which makes it difficult to determine whether they’re a safe and effective option in terms of helping smokers to quit. 

What is of most concern is the inadequate information on both the content and emissions of e-cigarettes and their potential adverse impact on a person’s health in the long term.  While there may be anecdotal evidence that e-cigarettes may have helped some smokers give up,  there’s still a lack of broad scale, population level data on their effectiveness as a tool to quit smoking.  That’s also the position of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) which continues to ban e-cigs because in the absence of that data,  the quality and safety of e-cigarettes is still unknown.

Until we have that body of evidence, Cancer Council WA has to remain cautious, and in the meantime,  we continue to work to encourage current smokers to quit and ex-smokers to remain non-smokers via the range of programs we conduct.  There are a range of nicotine replacement options available for smokers wishing to quit.  Those do come with a substantial body of evidence to guide choices about their use, both in terms of benefits and weaknesses.  For those wanting to quit smoking we offer smoking cessation support in the form of workplace courses, as well as providing information resources.

Smokers can also call the Quitline and speak to their GP about proven nicotine replacement therapy options.

Cancer Council WA has been committed to efforts to reduce smoking rates in our state for many years and we remain so.  Tobacco control has saved countless lives and we continue to do, and advocate for, what we know works to reduce the harm tobacco causes.  We’ll remain concerned about e-cigs until and unless there’s clear evidence that they’re safe to use, and that there’s a clear benefit for smokers in using them to successfully quit smoking.

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