A NEW study showing a major increase in the dual use of electronic and smoked tobacco cigarettes among Polish teenagers should ring alarm bells about the health risks electronic cigarettes could pose to young Australians, Cancer Council Australia reports.
The study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, showed that between 2010-11 and 2013-14 the tandem use of electronic and smoked tobacco cigarettes among 15- to 19-year-olds had increased more than five-fold from 3.6% to 21.8%.
Chair of Cancer Council Australia’s Tobacco Issues Committee, Kylie Lindorff, said the figures showed why global tobacco companies were investing so heavily in the electronic cigarette market.
“The biggest investors in the electronic cigarette market are the global tobacco companies, who clearly see electronic cigarettes as a lucrative sideline to help push their main earner, smoked tobacco products,” Ms Lindorff said.
“It’s no wonder the big tobacco companies are pushing electronic cigarettes, many of which are clearly targeted at the youth market, when there is so much potential to addict a new youth market to smoked tobacco products.”
Ms Lindorff said there is an ongoing debate about whether electronic cigarettes could be a less harmful alternative to smoked tobacco products.
“This study shows there was no reduction in the use of smoked tobacco products among the electronic cigarette users,” she said. “Even more distressing, do we want to risk the health of a whole new generation of Australians by inundating the market with e-cigarettes? We have the lowest levels of youth smoking ever recorded, so there is a lot to lose in Australia.
“Parents should be deeply concerned about these findings.”
Ms Lindorff said Cancer Council was calling for a ban on non-nicotine e-cigarettes, most of which were fruit and confectionary flavoured and targeted at the youth market, and for tighter advertising restrictions and the banning of electronic cigarettes in smoke-free areas. The sale and possession of nicotine-based electronic cigarettes were already unlawful under poisons legislation.