Iuring a recent three week period, a large hospital in Western Australia treated a teenager with seizures after vaping too much nicotine, a toddler with heart problems after drinking e-cigarette fluid and one death attributed to the consumption of electronic cigarette fluid.
It’s cases like these that public health doctor Professor Emily Banks said will be avoided thanks to new vaping laws that went into effect on Friday.
They mean that vaping products that contain nicotine can only be obtained with a doctor’s prescription.
Research provided by Banks, an Australian National University epidemiologist, has helped inform the laws.
âThese laws are the result of a comprehensive review of the global evidence,â Banks said.
âWe know that nicotine is highly addictive, that it is not good for brain development, and that non-smokers who use it are three times more likely to become regular smokers than those who don’t. not used electronic cigarettes.
âWe have information on impacts such as seizures and other health issues in some users. It is encouraging that we finally have an evidence-based policy. We have seen, over the years, an increase in the illicit use of these products, especially in schools.
Banks recovered discarded e-cigarette wrappers from her daughter’s high school, finding that the wrapper from one packet of vape revealed that the product contained the nicotine equivalent of nine packs of cigarettes.
She said that for most smokers, e-cigarettes are not effective tools to help them quit, and the majority of people who vape in Australia do not use the products as a smoking cessation device.
âIf we look at all of the people who use e-cigarettes, 54% are current smokers as well and these are what we call ‘dual users’,â she said. âAccording to the data, they use e-cigarettes at the same time as smoking because they think e-cigarettes are more socially acceptable and can be used in some places where smoking is prohibited and because they are cheaper. . They don’t use them to stop.
About 16% of current e-cigarette users are non-smokers who have never inhaled tobacco, Banks said, while the remaining third are former smokers. There are approximately 400,000 users of electronic cigarettes in Australia.
âYou hear these vaping advocates say, well, all of these people who use e-cigarettes are using them to quit smoking,â she said. “It just isn’t true.”
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners [RACGP] publishes best practice guidelines to help GPs if approached by smokers and nicotine vapers to prescribe the products. However, the guidelines will state that due to the limited evidence to support their use in withdrawal, nicotine vaping products should be considered a last resort.
Australian Medical Association (AMA) President Dr Omar Khorshid said GPs shouldn’t feel pressured to prescribe nicotine products for e-cigarettes.
“WADA is a cautious supporter of these changes because … we believe the laws will be beneficial in that they will close the open-door policy for the illegal importation of nicotine which has resulted in fairly open access,” and we really want to reduce the chance for adolescents and other young children to access these products, âhe said.
âBut on the negative side, we have doctors who are very concerned that they are being asked to prescribe a substance for which there is really no convincing scientific evidence that it works or is safe. But if people have tried other smoking cessation mechanisms, and if they are determined to quit, then we have accepted that even in the absence of evidence, it is not an unreasonable thing to try to stop smoking. vaping for a short time.
“As long as the intention is to quit cigarettes.”
The government introduced a new telehealth Medicare article number for smoking cessation consultations, where they can write scripts for nicotine replacement products, including vaping products that contain nicotine .
Already vaping websites have compiled a list of GPs they believe are ready to prescribe products. A website claims it can connect consumers with a GP who can deliver a vaping script within minutes.
A a significant share of the global electronic cigarette market is now held by large tobacco manufacturers, who are turning to e-cigarettes in countries where smoke-free laws have made it harder to advertise cigarettes.
Khorshid said the emergence of websites was concerning.
“It is very important that physicians involved in this stuff be aware of their obligations under telehealth article numbers,” he said. “Item numbers should be used for smoking cessation consultations, not specifically for prescribing these products.”