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February 06, 2020 2 min read

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THE LATEST SCIENTIFIC REVIEW of vaping nicotine has concluded it is an effective quitting aid for smokers and could substantially reduce smoking rates in Australia.

The peer-reviewed study by Australian academics Conjoint Associate Professor Colin Mendelsohn, Professor Wayne Hall and Professor Ron Borland was published in the scientific journal Drug and Alcohol Review today. It is the first analysis to specifically assess the potential for vaping to reduce smoking in Australia.

The study found that vaping is more effective than other quitting aids and is the most popular quitting method in most countries where it is available

However, vaping is effectively banned in Australia and vaping rates are currently very low, only 1.2% in 2016. Vaping rates in other western countries are much higher:

Current vaping rates in selected western countries

In countries where it is readily available, such as the USA and the UK, nicotine vaping has accelerated the decline in national smoking rates. This contrasts with Australia where the smoking rate has remained largely unchanged for the past six years.

Smoking rates in the UK and US are declining much faster than in Australia

This comprehensive analysis of the latest science shows that vaping could play a valuable role in reducing Australia’s stalled smoking rate and save lives.

The review coincides with the smoking cessation guidelines published this week by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners which support vaping nicotine for smokers who are otherwise unable to quit.

Regulators need to review the latest evidence from this study and the RACGP guidelines and update Australian policy

Australia remains the only western democracy where it is illegal to sell and use nicotine liquid for vaping.  A balanced approach to regulation would allow access to vaping products for adult smokers who are unable to quit while restricting access to non-smokers and young people.

The stagnation of smoking rates in Australia means that we need innovative and effective quitting aids in addition to our traditional tobacco control strategies. Making vaping more easily available will improve public health and will save lives.

Report on Channel 7 News Sydney

Resources

  1. Mendelsohn CP, Hall W, Borland R. Could vaping help lower smoking rates in Australia? Drug and Alcohol Review, Jan 2020
  2. Supporting smoking cessation. A guide for health professionals. Second edition. Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, 2020

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