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Heart Foundation calls for import ban of nicotine e-cigarettes

Electronic cigarette in hand in the middle of thick smoke

The Heart Foundation is calling for a range of much-needed regulatory actions to better protect Australians from the harmful effects of e-cigarettes.

The Heart Foundation this week made a submission to the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) regulatory review of e-cigarettes. Recommendations include:

  • The introduction of controls on the importation of all e-cigarette products (both nicotine and non-nicotine products) including declaring such products as ‘prohibited imports’.
  • That the TGA establish a regulated source of e-cigarettes that have been successfully evaluated for quality, safety, and efficacy (for prescribed smoking cessation).
  • That a range of actions is taken to reduce the appeal of e-cigarette products, including prohibiting all flavours (except tobacco), reducing the maximum nicotine concentration, and modifying labeling and packaging requirements.

The Heart Foundation has long been a major advocate of controls on tobacco smoking given the unequivocally dangerous link between smoking and cardiovascular disease.

The organisation is particularly concerned that e-cigarettes are serving as a gateway for users to take up tobacco smoking. Research shows that use of e-cigarettes can cause people who have never smoked to take up tobacco cigarettes, and reformed smokers to relapse.

The Heart Foundation is also concerned that people who use e-cigarettes face a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease during their lifetime, as nicotine use can lead to increased risk of high blood pressure, increased heart rate and arterial stiffness.

Furthermore, inhaling these products is simply not safe. They have been found to contain hundreds of chemicals and can cause accidental and intentional poisonings (including deaths), seizures, burns and injuries. Further research to understand the longer-term health impacts of e-cigarette use is required, warranting a precautionary approach in the meantime.

Comments attributable to Heart Foundation CEO David Lloyd:

“E-cigarettes are simply not safe to use and have been shown to cause non-smokers to take up tobacco smoking – a dangerous double-whammy on a person’s heart health.

“Despite being illegal unless prescribed, e-cigarettes containing nicotine have somehow increasingly found their way into the hands of Australian children, young people and reformed smokers.

“As a nation, we are now at a ‘sliding doors’ moment where we risk allowing the health mistakes from tobacco cigarettes more than 60 years ago to be repeated for an entirely new generation.

“The Heart Foundation thanks the TGA for this review and asks that it consider our recommendations in the interest of protecting the health of future generations of Australians.”

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