The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation has responded to a public health academic’s claims last week that ‘misinformation’ is stopping e-cigarettes from dramatically reducing smoking rates.

“As far as we’re aware, there is no good evidence demonstrating that using e-cigarettes will reduce the incidence of smoking normal tobacco cigarettes,” says Letitia O’Dwyer, Chief Executive of the Foundation.

Associate Professor Marewa Glover said last week that smokeless products like vapes (e-cigarettes) were key to reducing smoking rates following a mere 0.6 per cent decrease in smokers over the past year.

Dr Stuart Jones, medical director of the Foundation, said while there was no good evidence on quit rates for e-cigarettes, it did recognise that using e-cigarettes may be beneficial to some people who struggle to give up using current smoking cessation aids.  “But we need to make sure that we’re targeting that group.”

“Restricting the sale of e-cigarettes to only those people who are smoking and want to use e-cigarettes to give up or reduce harm is something that should be considered – and perhaps a subsidy would help in that situation, and being part of a smoking cessation program,” says Dr Jones who is also New Zealand branch president of the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand.

“But what we don’t want is our younger generation of New Zealanders using e-cigarettes or vaping thinking they are not harmful. We just don’t have enough information on the long-term effects of these products,” said Jones.

Jones said his cautious stance was in alignment with the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS), an organisation comprised of the world’s leading international respiratory societies representing 70,000 members globally. Their position is that health and safety claims regarding electronic nicotine delivery devices should be subject to evidentiary review.

The FIRS stand point on e-cigarettes and vaping was presented by leading international experts at recent The Asian Pacific Society of Respirology (APSR) Congress 2017 which ended at the weekend in Sydney.

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