Cancer Council has warned Queenslanders not to use e-cigarettes, with new data showing a significant increase in poisoning cases in Queensland, especially in young children.
The Queensland Poisons Information Centre recorded a significant increase in poisoning cases related to e-cigarettes containing nicotine and liquid nicotine products in 2013.
The majority of poisoning cases occurred in children between two and five years of age.
Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said e-cigarettes were a significant threat to public health and backed the WHO’s call for tough regulation of their sale and use.
“Electronic cigarettes, those containing nicotine, and those containing substances other than nicotine, have not been tested for quality, safety or performance by the Therapeutic Goods Administration,” Ms Clift said.
“Nicotine is classified by law as a dangerous poison – e-cigarette nicotine is illegal in Australia and has not been deemed safe for use by medical experts and health authorities.
“Queensland Health’s recent testing of e-cigarette liquid nicotine refill containers showed they contain enough nicotine to cause serious illness or death if swallowed or absorbed through the skin.
“Our concern is not only for e-cigarette users, but children and other family members who may also come in contact with, ingest, and be poisoned by nicotine and liquid nicotine products.
“There is a lack of long-term scientific evidence to support their safety, and they could also lead to nicotine addiction and tobacco smoking.”
Earlier this week, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned of increasing uptake among middle and high school students in the US, with young people who used e-cigarettes almost twice as likely to go on and smoke conventional cigarettes.
“Experimentation with e-cigarettes is increasing rapidly among young people globally, due to predatory promotions and marketing by the tobacco industry,” Ms Clift said.
“Queensland’s tobacco control initiatives are working to denormalise smoking among young people, who are particularly vulnerable to visual cues and social norms.
“Uptake of e-cigarettes threatens to unwind our progress on tobacco control and harm the health of our community.”
Cancer Council Queensland also condemned the use of e-cigarettes as an effective smoking cessation tool.
“Smoking cessation programs and interventions provided by Quitline are effective in ensuring Queenslanders have the necessary support to be smoke free for life,” Ms Clift said.
“There are a range of approved and safe strategies for quitting cigarettes, including nicotine replacement therapy approved by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration.
“We would welcome moves by the State Government to ban e-cigarettes and fast-track new laws to create smoke free public spaces across the state.
“E-cigarettes are not a safe option for a smoke free future.”
Smokers can obtain free information, practical assistance and support from Quitline, 13 QUIT (13 7848), or join the QUEST to quit at www.quest.org.au.
More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available via Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20 or cancerqld.org.au.
For more information or interviews, please contact:
Katie Clift, Executive Manager, Media and Spokesperson, Cancer Council Queensland
Ph: (07) 3634 5372 or 0409 001 171