A new generation of smokers

Public health officials have expressed concern at the growing uptake of e-cigarettes, particularly amongst young people.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) recently assessed the most current scientific evidence to provide national advice on the safety and health effects of electronic cigarettes. 

The NHMRC ‘2022 CEO Statement on Electronic Cigarettes’ detailed these key messages:

  • E-cigarette vapour can be harmful, especially to those who have never smoked before. 
  • All e-cigarette users are exposed to toxins and chemicals that could potentially cause adverse health effects.  
  • More than 200 unique chemicals are used in e-liquids.  
  • Between 2020-2021, e-cigarette related calls to Australian Poisons Information Centres have more than doubled. 
  • E-cigarettes are not proven safe and effective smoking cessation aids. 
  • E-cigarette users may be more likely to take up tobacco smoking. 

The statement reported more than half of individuals tried e-cigarettes “out of curiosity,” a response especially common among younger age groups. Teenagers are also more likely to try e-cigarettes if exposed to e-cigarette content on social media.

Following the NHMRC Statement, the Four Corners episode ‘Vape Haze’ detailed the rapidly growing risks of e-cigarette addiction in young people, with Associate Professor Becky Freeman adding: “You had ads in teen magazines…on children's cartoon websites. It's no wonder this product appealed to young people so much…It was marketed to them, and it was available to them.”

The AMA continues to raise its concerns that tobacco companies are using e-cigarettes to reinfiltrate the Australian market by providing easily accessible nicotine products to Australian youth. More must be done to restrict access to these harmful products and ensure sufficient preventative measures are implemented to protect our youth from further harm.

The AMA’s submission to the Department of Health on the draft National Tobacco Strategy 2022-2030 can be accessed here. 

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