Many people are pushing for vaping to be legalised in Australia.
Many people are pushing for vaping to be legalised in Australia.

Vaping row lights up with new claim

A NEW survey claims puffing on e-cigarettes is more effective for quitting smoking than nicotine patches or gum.

But the figures are just the latest in a series of studies being published around the world, and comes just a week after an alarming study pointed to a growing public health concern around young Australian women trying vaping, many who had never smoked a real cigarette.

The latest study released this week from the Queen Mary University of London found 18 per cent of e-cigarette users were smoke-free after a year, compared to 9.9 per cent of people using nicotine-replacement products.

The government's position is that existing evidence indicates that e-cigarettes are not harmless products and an inquiry into the health impacts of nicotine e-cigarettes was launched by Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt in September.

It all contributes to a confusing picture of what is healthy and what isn't - and comes as advocates claim misinformation about vaping is widespread and harmful to public health.

A number of groups have been pushing for Australia to legalise vaping, including the Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association (ATHRA), Legalise Vaping Australia and tobacco brands such as Philip Morris.

"Vaping is a far less harmful alternative for smokers who are unable to quit and has helped millions of smokers quit overseas," ATHRA chairman, Conjoint Associate Professor Colin Mendelsohn, said.

Many people are pushing for vaping to be legalised in Australia.
Many people are pushing for vaping to be legalised in Australia.

ATHRA is a health promotion charity established by independent doctors to raise awareness of vaping and other tobacco harm reduction strategies.

Professor Mendelsohn said smoking rates in Australia had stalled since 2013 and vaping was a potential lifesaver for smokers who were unable to quit with conventional treatments.

"The scientific consensus is that it is far less harmful than smoking," he said.

He said out of the 37 OECD countries, only three had vaping bans including Mexico and Japan.

Legalise Vaping Australia campaign director Brian Marlow said more than 55 scientific studies showed vaping was less harmful than cigarettes and could help people quit smoking.

"2.6 million Australians smoke daily and according to the ABS, since 2014-15 the adult daily smoking rate is 'unchanged'," he said.

"After three years of trying and failing to help Australians quit, the facts are clear. Existing methods to reduce smoking rates are not working, and there is another way.

"Australia can catch up with Canada, New Zealand, the United States, and the United Kingdom and legalise smoke-free alternatives to help smokers quit for good.

"We need a legislative and regulatory regime that supports the sale of these products to ensure people have the best chance to quit cigarettes."

Tammy Chan, managing director for Philip Morris, said she believed the products could, when regulated properly, help to reduce smoking rates in Australia.

Mr Hunt did not respond to news.com.au's request for comment.