Last updated September 16, 2019 at 3:13 pm
Donald Trump has announced a ban on flavoured e-cigarettes in the US. Australian experts have responded about whether the flavourings are the culprit or just a straw man in the e-cigarette debate.
Why This Matters: So vaping is bad, but guns are okay?
The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in the US is currently investigating 380 “probable” cases of a vaping-associated lung disease and six deaths.
According to the CDC, most patients have reported a history of using e-cigarette products containing THC – the main psychoactive part of cannabis. Many patients have reported using THC and nicotine and some have reported the use of e-cigarette products containing only nicotine.
“Most of the reports about these hospitalisations and death suggest that THC vaping products, particularly backyard-produced liquids, are involved, rather than mainstream nicotine vaping products,” says Coral Gartner from The University of Queensland.
“We need to monitor this situation closely, but at this stage it is unclear whether there are any implications for people using standard commercial nicotine vaping products to quit smoking, such as products that comply with the European Union regulations.”
Vaping nicotine is unlikely to be the cause
Colin Mendelsohn from the University of New South Wales believes it is unlikely that vaping nicotine to quit smoking will turn out to be the cause.
“Nicotine vaping is an effective quitting aid and has not yet been linked to any serious respiratory harm,” he told the AusSMC.
So far no specific e-cigarette or vaping product or substance has been found in all cases, and no one product or substance been conclusively linked to lung disease.
Medical advisor to Cancer Council Australia, Matthew Peters says that the lack of a specific pattern in the deaths was concerning.
“The absence of a specific pattern of product or use is concerning and it is equally worrying that these reports have come from a range of US states so that local contamination is unlikely.”
“It is possible that the link to e-cigarettes is coincidental in some cases but also likely that other cases have not been attributed to e-cigarette use as the link was never contemplated.”
In a media statement, the US Food and Drug Administration’s Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says the decision to ban the flavoured e-cigarettes was intended to reverse the “deeply concerning epidemic of youth e-cigarette use that is impacting children, families, schools and communities.”
Australia has taken the right approach to e-cigarettes
However Bill Stavreski from the Heart Foundation warned that the number of Australian children aged 12 to 17 years who have tried e-cigarettes is growing, with the number almost tripling between 2013 and 2016.
“The evidence is growing that e-cigarettes can drive young adults to take up smoking, and that their use is associated with a higher risk of respiratory disease, heart disease and the precursors to cancer,” he says
Simon Chapman from the University of Sydney warns that vapers are being treated like human lab rats with the average daily vaper inhaling a cocktail of vapourised nicotine, propylene glycol ad chemical flavouring agents deep into their lungs 200 times a day or 73,000 times a year.
“We have no idea what the long term consequences of this are.”
You can read the full AusSMC Expert Reaction here.