17 April 2022

ANU report links e-cigarettes to increased adverse health effects in youth

| Aiden Rothnie
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An ANU report warns e-cigarettes cause adverse health effects, especially in young people. Photo: Supplied.

An Australian National University (ANU) report has warned that e-cigarettes increase the risk of adverse health effects, particularly in youth.

The report found young nicotine e-cigarette users were susceptible to taking up smoking, addiction, poisoning, seizures, burns and lung injury.

It also found that e-cigarette use negatively impacted the cardiovascular system, including blood pressure, lung function and heart rate.

More than 53 per cent of current e-cigarette users in Australia also smoke, 31.5 per cent are past smokers and 15.5 per cent have never smoked, the report revealed.

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There was limited evidence that vapes or e-cigarettes provided users any material help to quit smoking, according to the report’s lead author Professor Emily Banks.

“Most people who quit smoking successfully do so unaided,” she said.

Professor Banks added that harmful misinformation about vape use was circulating among Aussie youth.

“There are myths targeting young people; the false ideas that vapes wouldn’t be widely available if they were dangerous and ‘it’s just water vapour’.”

“In Australia, over two million people have used e-cigarettes. Use is more common among youth, particularly young males.

“Young non-smokers who vape are around three times as likely to take up smoking [cigarettes] than non-vapers.”

Youth smoking an e-cigarette

There are worrying myths among youth in Australia regarding vape use. Photo: Nicolas McComber.

Former smoker and e-cigarette user Rian Duthie said he started vaping to quit smoking, but it didn’t work out.

“I sort of lied to myself about stopping [smoking cigarettes] but really, I just moved from one addiction to another,” he said.

Though he only used vapes for a short time he felt like he vaped much more than he ever smoked cigarettes.

“I probably only vaped for six to eight months after a year and a half of smoking,” he said.

“With cigarettes you go outside, have a smoke, come back in. But with a vape I just found myself doing it inside and I started just smoking more with a vape than I ever was with cigarettes because it was more convenient.”

Young man

Rian Duthie said he traded one addiction for another when he moved on to vaping. Photo: Rian Duthie.

“It wasn’t helping me get off nicotine; if anything it was probably making it worse.

“After a while I started realising I was coughing quite a bit so I just decided to stop and try better myself.”

Rian said he didn’t know much about vapes and assumed it was better for him simply because it wasn’t a cigarette.

“I didn’t think it’d be great because anything you’re burning and inhaling probably isn’t great for you but I had no clue about the long-term effects,” he said.

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“I’m not a scientist or anything but I would highly recommend people look into it more than I did and research the effects it can have on you before starting.”

The ANU report supported national and international efforts to avoid e-cigarette use in the general population, particularly non-smokers and youth.

“Our young people have been through a lot and they deserve the best future possible,” Professor Banks said.

“The evidence is in that avoiding e-cigarettes should be part of that.”

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I smoked for over 40 years, and it was only through vaping that I was actually able to quit. Vaping allowed me to slowly reduce the amount of nicotine down to zero, and then over the next few months, I realised I was vaping less & less. So, I decided on a date and stopped vaping. That was over two years ago and I haven’t looked back.

I totally agree that children shouldn’t be able to access vaping but, long term smokers like myself should be able to, as a form of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT). A double blind study in the UK showed vaping as a form of NRT was twice as effective for smoking cessation as the next best NRT – patches. Vaping 70% vs patches 35%. Which is why GPs in the UK actually advise patients to use vaping to quit.

I actually think that New Zealand’s approach that they’re introducing, is an even better way to stop people taking up smoking. Especially since it will eventually lead to nobody in the country smoking at all.

Scott Anthony6:11 pm 17 Apr 22

Firstly, well done but I think the big difference there is that he’s young and you had been smoking for a long time and are a mature adult who was committed to taking steps to slow down and quit. About the best method and it worked for me but not with a vape, just reducing the number of cigs till it wasn’t fun anymore and quitting was easy.. Been off them over 20 years now.. good luck mate..

Clever Interrobang7:54 pm 17 Apr 22

It’s really important as harm reduction.

vaping really helps me to not smoke by replacing the behaviour of smoking.

I don’t use nicotine when I vape.

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