Insufficient evidence for the safety of e-cigarettes

3 April 2017:

Summary media release information

03 April 2017
Media Release
Contact for further information: 

 M: 0422 008 512
 E: sends e-mail)

National Health and Medical Research Council CEO, Professor Anne Kelso AO, has today released a statement updating Australians on the latest evidence for the safety, quality and efficacy of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes). 

The statement concludes that ‘there is currently insufficient evidence to support claims that e-cigarettes are safe, and further research is required to enable the long-term safety, quality and efficacy of e‑cigarettes to be assessed.’

E-cigarettes continue to be promoted as a safe alternative to conventional cigarettes, or as a quit smoking aid.  There is a lack of evidence to support these claims. While e-cigarettes may expose users to fewer toxic chemicals than conventional tobacco cigarettes, the extent to which this reduces harm to the user has not been determined. There is also some evidence to suggest that e-cigarettes could act as a gateway to tobacco cigarettes for non-smokers.

‘Until evidence of safety, quality and efficacy can be produced, health authorities and policy-makers should continue to act to minimise harm to users and bystanders.  This particularly applies to young people’ Professor Kelso said. 

NHMRC, as Australia’s leading body for supporting health and medical research, has provided close to $6.5 million for research into e-cigarettes since 2011. Outcomes from this research should be progressively available from June 2018.

Consumers are advised to seek further information about e‑cigarettes from reliable sources, such as their state or territory health department or local quit smoking service.

The statement is now available from the NHMRC website.