Video. 60 Minutes investigation into e-cigarettes

Posted by DrMendelsohn on 9 April, 2017

60 minutes branding.JPGThe leading current affairs show 60 Minutes aired a special investigation on electronic cigarettes yesterday on Channel 9.

CLICK HERE to view the segment on e-cigarettes.

The investigation focusses on the fact that Australia's drug regulator, the Therapeutics Goods Administration, recently rejected an application to allow Australian smokers to use low concentrations of nicotine for vaping as a much safer substitute to tobacco cigarettes.

The case FOR e-cigarettes was made by Associate Professor Colin Mendelsohn and Dr Nick Hopkinson, from London. Dr Hopkinson is a respiratory physician on the UK Royal College of Physicians committee responsible for last year's review of electronic cigarettes, which recommended the widespread use of e-cigarettes to improve public health. Further evidence was given by Dr David O'Reilly from British American Tobacco in London. BAT makes some e-cigarettes and is aiming to switch smokers to safer products like e-cigarettes.

60 Minutes.JPGIt was agreed that e-cigarettes were much less harmful than smoking. The UK Royal College of Physicians estimates that long-term use causes no more than 5% of the harm of smoking.

Professor Skerrit from the TGA, gave the following reasons for NOT legalising nicotine for use in e-cigarettes:

  • Experts are divided on whether e-cigarettes will lead non-smokers to try them and start smoking (ie act as a 'gateway' to smoking)

    There are some experts who argue that young people who experiment with e-cigarettes may then go on to smoking. However, there is no evidence that e-cigarette cause smoking in people who would not already have gone on to smoke anyway. Regular e-cigarette use is almost entirely confined to smokers and recent ex-smokers. Regular e-cigarette use by non-smoking youth is rare (Bauld 2016; Warner 2016).

  • 'Anti-freeze' has been found in e-liquid

    Extremely low levels of diethylene glycol (used in anti-freeze) ware found as a contaminant in a single sample (Westenberger 2009) in a dose 'unlikely to cause any harm from normal use' (Farsalinos 2014; Hajek 2014). It  has not been found in studies of e-liquid samples since then in any significant amounts.

  • 'Once it is out of the bag, it is hard to put back in'.

    Of course, nicotine in e-cigarettes is already 'out of the bag'. As mentioned in the show, there are an estimated 500,000 regular vapers in Australia. Most of those who use nicotine are forced to purchase it illegally from overseas websites or from the unregulated blackmarket, which adds to the risk.


Video available at

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