Chief medical officer warns of next ‘big health issue’ after Covid

23 June 2022

By: Catie Mcleod, NCA newswire

Australia’s chief medical officer Paul Kelly has warned vaping may be the next “big health issue” after the Covid-19 pandemic.

Professor Kelly said he was “deeply concerned” about the rise of vapes particularly among young people who hadn’t smoked traditional cigarettes.

His comments come as the National Health and Medical Research Council released its latest report on e-cigarettes on Thursday.

It found that all e-cigarette users are exposed to potentially dangerous chemicals and toxins and there is limited evidence that the devices are effective at helping smokers quit.

The number of calls about e-cigarettes to the national poisons hotline more than doubled between 2020 and 2021.

Speaking after the report’s release, Professor Kelly said “the only thing we should be breathing in is air.”

“There’s no question that there are potential harms from e-cigarette use for those who have never smoked and we know the harms of smoking,” he said.

“One of my colleagues has said recently that e-cigarettes are the next big health issue after COVID and I think that’s a really important statement to take on board.

“Please discuss this evidence with your children, your nieces and nephews, students, players in your football or netball team, your brothers and sisters – we need that conversation out there.

Australia last October made it illegal for people to import nicotine vaping products from overseas websites without a valid prescription from an Australian doctor.

It was already illegal for Australian retailers to sell nicotine vaping products, even to customers with a valid doctor’s prescription.

But the devices, particularly colourful disposable vapes, are still readily available behind the counter at tobacconists and convenience stores across Australia.

And while fewer Australians are smoking tobacco daily, the use of e-cigarettes is increasing, particularly among young people.

The Australian Council on Smoking and Health has called on the government to prohibit the sale and promotion of e-cigarettes to young people.

Peter Dutton on Thursday said he would be open to a debate on the matter.

“It is not an illegal product. If it was banned you would have the problems that go with prohibition,” he said.

“I don’t want to see an increase of smoking rates and I don’t want to see an increase of people taking up cigarettes.

“But the department and government will be informed on these matters and we will see what happens.”



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