The Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs Council Tasmania (ATDC) has called for an immediate investment in prevention activities to reduce the harm from the uptake of vapes / e-cigarettes in the state.
A discussion paper released by the ATDC says it is critical to increase knowledge, community literacy and general awareness about the possible health harms associated with vapes and e-cigs given the anecdotal evidence that suggests a three-fold increase in their use by children and young people.
“Some young people see vaping as less harmful than other drugs, while the evidence is not that clear,” the paper said.
“Research suggests that current and former tobacco smokers believe that vaping is less harmful and less addictive than mainstream tobacco smoking.”
“There is a rising concern that vapes / e-cigs are normalising smoking, or reintroducing young people to smoking, who would otherwise not have smoked tobacco cigarettes.
“One of the problems here is that there are minimal publicly available Tasmanian statistics on vaping, nor are there any Tasmanian studies which record vaping in terms of products, by nicotine, non-nicotine or other drugs.”
The ATDC paper includes five position statements as follows:
- Increased investment for research into the social and health impacts of use.
- No punitive action towards, nor criminalisation of the use of vapes/e-cigarettes.
- Immediate action to deliver evidence-based harm-reduction education.
- A continued focus on tightening regulation on importation and sales.
- Clear clinical guidelines for alcohol, tobacco and other drug client-centred treatment services.
E-cigarettes, also known as vapes, are battery-powered devices designed to heat a solid or liquid into aerosol which is inhaled. Vapes/e-cigs have a capsule of chamber that holds liquid nicotine, salts and flavouring. The aerosol looks like a mist or smoke when exhaled, but this is not called smoking but vaping.
ATDC CEO Alison Lai said proactive education would have a positive impact on the health of Tasmanians who either used or would consider using these products in the future.
“With the addition of sweet flavourings, these products are becoming more appealing for experimental and first-time smokers,” she said.
Ms Lai said there were diverse views in the community regarding the support or otherwise of using vapes/e-cigarettes.
“People working directly with clients, those providing health education to schools or the community or individuals who are concerned about vaping/e-cigarettes from a public health or a regulation perspective have conflicting views,” she said.
“The absence of clinical guidelines for vaping / use of e-cigarettes in client-centred treatment services is an issue that needs to be addressed.
“While e-cigarettes can be prescribed as a smoking cessation tool, vaping products are not because they have not been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
“The Department of Health recommends nicotine NRT products because they have been clinically tested and follow quality and safety standards.
“At the same time, we are hearing from some people who work in the community sector that vaping may be a better option than smoking for certain clients who have tried all other methods to give up.”
Ms Lai said the ATDC did not support any kind of punitive measure to curb vaping.
“The recent example in a Tasmanian school that saw toilet doors removed to discourage vaping on school grounds is a response we do not support,” she said.
Available for interview:
- Alison Lai, CEO ATDC – mobile 0450 517 017
- Nicolas Turner – mobile 0418 538 865 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Vaping and e-cigarettes
The ATDC advocates against criminalising personal use and the possession of all vapes/e-cigarette products in Tasmania. Penalising personal use of any drug promotes stigma and acts to stop people from accessing treatment and support.Read the position paper
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