Researchers at the Australian National University have published a review of global evidence on vaping. They found evidence of “significant harms” from vaping. The Cancer Council’s Public Health Chair says “a public health crisis is rapidly unfolding before our eyes”.
Here’s what the research found.
IT’S NOT JUST WATER VAPOUR
A study of the contents of the smoke from a non-nicotine vape found 243 unique chemicals, of which 38 were listed poisons. Several others were linked to adverse health outcomes, including formaldehyde. One chemical was not permitted to be in vapes, and three chemicals were above the legally allowed amount.
LINKS TO BAD HEALTH OUTCOMES
The review found direct evidence that vaping can lead to addiction, poisoning, seizures, and lung injury.
It also found some less direct evidence that indicated vaping could affect blood pressure and heart rate, lung function, and adolescent brain development.
UNKNOWN EFFECT ON LONG-TERM HEALTH
The study said there is still a lack of evidence on how vaping impacts a range of longer-term health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, mental health, child development, reproduction, and sleep.
THEY ARE HIGHLY ADDICTIVE
Vapes containing nicotine are highly addictive, the study said.
Nicotine exposure during adolescence can change the development and function of the brain.
Some vapes contain “nicotine salt products” which make higher concentrations of nicotine palatable.
THE LINK BETWEEN VAPING AND SMOKING
There is limited evidence that vaping helps to quit smoking. There is evidence that using vaping as a quitting method results in higher nicotine intake than other quitting methods.
The study did find evidence that vaping can encourage smoking. It said non-smokers who do vape are three times more likely to take up smoking.
BAD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
The report also found evidence that vape smoke pollutes indoor air.
Vapes also contain single-use plastics and lithium batteries, which contributes to environmental waste.
HOW MANY PEOPLE VAPE?
In 2019, 11% of Australians aged 14 and over reported they had vaped at least once. This was higher for young Australians: one in four people aged 18-24 said they have vaped at least once.
WHO DID THIS STUDY?
The study was compiled by nine researchers from the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at the Australian National University.
It was produced for the Australian Department of Health.