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Fresh calls to ban the sale of e-cigarettes

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By Josh Piers - - 5 Mins Read
A comprehensive investigation showed that e-cigarettes may be harmful to your health, prompting new calls to restrict their sale in Australia.  Following the most extensive analysis of vaping risks yet, the Australian Council on Smoking and Health recommends that governments prohibit the sale and promotion of e-cigarettes to minors. The review found conclusive evidence that e-cigarettes caused poisoning, injuries, burns, and acute toxicity by inhalation, including seizures, conducted by academics from the Australian National University Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health. Addiction developed as a result of their use. The Federal Health Department supported the study, which found conclusive evidence that e-cigarettes produced less serious health effects like throat discomfort and nausea. The review, which was published on Thursday, states that "e-cigarettes cause acute lung harm." "There is moderate evidence that using e-cigarettes causes an increase in heart rate, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and arterial stiffness in smokers." The research revealed substantial evidence that e-cigarettes increased tobacco smoking uptake in nonsmokers, especially young individuals, but minimal evidence that nicotine e-cigarettes assist smokers to stop.  Professor Emily Banks, an epidemiologist and public health specialist, headed the team that examined information from 189 studies on the health effects of e-cigarettes. There had never been a systematic evaluation of the current evidence on the health implications of e-cigarettes before. The researchers wanted to know if nicotine and non-nicotine vaping products caused addiction, cardiovascular illness, cancer, pulmonary disease, oral disease, reproductive outcomes, injuries and poisonings, mental health disorders, and environmental hazards with human health implications. "The data is there for some of the hazards," Banks said, "but we don't know what the implications of e-cigarettes are on most key health outcomes, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and mental illness." "It hasn't been determined whether or not they are safe from these results." Despite this, she said, there were "myths" about e-cigarettes shown in advertising and promotion of the devices aimed toward young people, such as "the false concept that vapes wouldn't be freely available if they were dangerous and 'it's just water vapor'." "Hundreds of chemicals are delivered by vapes, some of which are known to be hazardous and many others with unknown consequences," Banks added. Rising vape users despite health concerns Alison Bolton, a Brisbane resident, has firsthand experience with the debilitating effects of smoking-related sickness. She was diagnosed with lung cancer five years ago and requires daily medicine to prevent the disease from spreading. She was taken aback when she learned that her adolescent son had begun to experiment with vaping. "We found a vape at home. I can see it from his perspective - it's so normalized, accessible, and everyone does it," Ms Bolton explained. "It shouldn't be so easy for a youngster to get their hands on a vaporizer." She doesn't want to see other young people follow in her footsteps unnecessarily. She is concerned that, similar to smoking in her childhood, the full health consequences of vaping are unknown. Evidence of lung damage and worry about the long-term health The current study discovered solid evidence that e-cigarettes can cause acute lung harm, particularly in persons who use vapes containing the hallucinogenic chemical THC and vitamin E acetate (but not always). In February, an autopsy revealed that a Queensland man died of a severe lung injury likely caused by vaping. Similarly, a 15-year-old Sydney girl was sent to intensive care last year with an e-cigarette or vaping-related lung damage, commonly known as EVALI, according to experts. One of the report's main concerns was how little is known about the possible effects of e-cigarettes on the majority of important health outcomes. Professor Banks stated, "We don't know, for example, what e-cigarettes do to cancer risk." "We don't know what they do to cardiovascular disease, reproductive health, or mental illness," says the author. "That means the safety of such items has yet to be determined." Promoted to help quit smoking While vaping is frequently touted as a way to quit smoking, the investigation found only "little evidence" that nicotine e-cigarettes were beneficial in aiding smokers in quitting. "Most people who successfully quit smoking do so on their own," Professor Banks added. "E-cigarettes are likely to be dangerous to nonsmokers and those who use them while continuing to smoke, which is now the most prevalent use pattern." People who also smoke account for 53% of current e-cigarette use in Australia, 31.5 percent of past smokers, and 15.5 percent of never smokers, according to the survey. "E-cigarettes may help a small percentage of smokers quit smoking totally and quickly," Professor Banks said, "but there is a lot of ambiguity regarding their effectiveness and the overall balance of risks and benefits for quitting." The report, on the other hand, found "strong evidence" that e-cigarette use leads to nicotine addiction and that e-cigarettes can promote the uptake of tobacco smoking in non-smokers. Experts back the finding Guy Marks, a pulmonary physician and environmental epidemiologist at the Woolcock Institute in Sydney, said the paper was "extremely detailed and methodologically solid," despite the fact that he was not engaged in it. Professor Marks, the head of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, said, "Broadly speaking, the finding that there is large overall harm and evidence of modest benefit... was not surprising." He stressed the importance of making health policy based on broad, comprehensive evaluations like these, rather than "piecemeal evidence." "There is a lot of pressure from the industry to ease e-cigarette rules, and the data in this document should prevent that." "Tobacco firms sold cigarettes all over the world with effective advertising and addictive substances, and it took a long time for the truth about their risks to emerging," said Mark Brooke, chief executive officer of the Lung Foundation. "These findings convey a clear message to all governments: act immediately. Do more to safeguard the community, especially young people, from the risks of e-cigarettes," says Anita Dessaix, chair of the Cancer Council's Public Health Committee. "We are witnessing the onset of a public health crisis. These findings send a strong warning to all governments: "Take action now."