Media ReleaseFrom: Ark Communications
Lung experts warn against legalising nicotine in e-cigarettes
New research exposes harms of vaping during pregnancy
(Canberra, Thursday 23rd March 2017): Australia’s peak body representing lung health professionals - the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ) - has today welcomed Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) decision to uphold the ban on e-cigarettes containg nicotine.
“To date, the evidence does not support the lifting of this ban,” said TSANZ President Professor Peter Gibson. “While electronic cigarettes are likely to be less dangerous than smoking cigarettes, they are not harmless. We have an increasing body of evidence pointing to the harms of e-cigarettes containing nicotine.”
New research uncovering such lung health harms is being presented at the TSANZ Annual Scientific Meeting in Canberra later this week. One study, lead by the University of Technology Sydney researchers Drs Sharma, Chapman and Oliver looked at the affect of e-vaping during pregnancy and the development of asthma in the offspring
Using a mouse model and human lung cells, it found that maternal e-cigarette vaping increased the risk and severity of allergic asthma and this could be attributed to aberrant mitochondrial function in the offspring born to vaping mothers.
“E-cigarettes are being considered as a tool to help quit smoking, so we considered the effect of maternal e-cigarette vaping an important area to look in to,” explained Dr Sharma from UTS. “Our study indicated e-vaping in pregnancy was associated with reduced lung function and an increased risk of asthma. These findings highlight that e-cigarette use during pregnancy should not be considered safe” he said.
This research is supported by an international study conducted using pregnant mouse published earlier last year which concluded when e-cigarettes was used as a healthier substitute for tobacco smoking during pregnancy mothers may still be running significant neurological risks to their unborn children.
Australia’s ban on nicotine containing e-cigarettes was first introduced in 2009. In September 2016, an application was brought to the TGA, proposing that nicotine in e-cigarettes at certain concentrations should be exempt on the basis that they provide an alternative pathway for smokers who are unable or unwilling to quit.
“To date, the evidence supporting e-cigarettes as an effective smoking cessation tool is insufficient to outweigh the possible harms being demonstrated by a growing body of evidence,“ said Professor Gibson.
“Accumulating evidence is showing that vaping is associated with adverse cardio-respiratory effects, DNA damage and impaired development in young people and pregnant women. If the TGA were to remove the ban, consumers could be under the false impression that all e-cigarettes were safe and effective cessation aids. As an organisation of health professionals committed to upholding evidence-based policy, we consider the removal of this ban at the stage to be unwarranted,” he said.