The research project, led by Curtin University Associate Professor Ben Mullins and Dr Sebastien Allard, and Associate Professor Alex Larcombe (who is affiliated with Curtin University and the Telethon Kids Institute) aims to develop improved analytical capabilities for tracing chemical components, including nicotine, present in e-cigarettes.
Experts agree that e-cigarette use increases the risk of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases and cancer, as well as a range of other health disorders. Despite this, the tobacco industry continues to market these products as a safer and healthier alternative to smoking tobacco cigarettes.
E-cigarette use amongst children and adolescents has grown exponentially in the last five years. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates young people who use e-cigarettes are more than twice as likely to smoke tobacco cigarettes later in life.
Lung Foundation Australia, CEO Mark Brooke believes there is a lot of misinformation around the dangers of e-cigarettes and vaping.
“Tobacco and related industries must continuously find new consumers to replace the ones their products are killing to maintain revenue,” Mr Brooke said.
“Their first line of attack is to develop and sell products, such as flavoured e-liquids and vape devices, that are specifically targeted to appeal to young people”
Collaborate Against Cancer CEO Dr Steve Burnell said the tobacco industry must be held accountable for what is contained in e-cigarettes.
“There are now over 15,000 flavours of liquids for smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes, marketed directly to children and adolescents,” Dr Burnell said.
“The sheer number and variety of flavours available means that many ingredients have never been tested for safety, and are definitely not made for decomposition under heat or over time.
“This new study will test on-the-shelf flavours to assist policy-makers to make evidence-based decisions on whether these products should be sold to, or used by Australians.”
The results of the study will be reviewed and discussed by leading health experts, government representatives and young people, at Lung Foundation Australia’s Vaping Round Table later this year.
For WNTD, WHO has launched the #tobaccoexposed campaign to spread awareness of the lengths the tobacco and related industries will go to market to children and adolescents.