Electronic cigarettes are not the silver bullet to stubbing out tobacco cigarette use as some experts claim, according to the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ.
The foundation is warning the public there was no good evidence about how healthy they are or that using e-cigarettes would reduce the number of people smoking normal tobacco cigarettes following comments made by a Massey University professor that smokeless products such as vapes would reduce the number of smokers.
ARFNZ medical director and Thoracic Society president Stuart Jones said he was aware some people who were struggling to give up smoking did find it easier to swap to e-cigarettes. However he said e-cigarettes should only be available to those people who might be part of a cessation programme.
E-cigarettes are electrical devices that replicate real cigarettes by heating a solution (e-liquid) to produce a vapour.
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"But what we don't want is our younger generation of New Zealanders using e-cigarettes or vaping thinking they are not harmful. We just don't have enough information on the long-term effects of these products," Jones said.
ARFNZ's view was in line with the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) which wanted a review into health and safety claims regarding electronic nicotine delivery devices.
Massey University professor of public health Marewa Glover told Newshub last week that she believed smoking rates would drop if New Zealand followed the UK's lead and encouraged smokers to switch to vapers by subsidising them.
"These new smokeless products that are much less harmful, they are like a flaming torch, you give everyone one of them, stand them at the top of the glacier and we would see it melt much faster," she told Newshub.
The Ministry of Health is currently monitoring the uptake of e-cigarettes, the health impact at individual and population levels including long-term effects and how successful they are in helping people quit smoking.