The ‘Wild West’ of Vaping

Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ remain concerned by the active promotion of vaping as a smoking cessation tool, amid mounting international evidence that vaping is not as safe as it is claimed to be.

Chief Medical Director Dr Stuart Jones says that new studies are showing more negative health impacts of vaping, and it’s hard to understand why there has been such a public health push for these products, out of step with the medical and scientific communities

"There are reports this week in the New England Journal of Medicine of potentially hundreds of cases of vaping-induced acute lung injury. These are a timely reminder to all of us that the only safe inhalants are clean air, or medications that have been through vigorous and robust safety assessments; this has been the Foundation’s stance on vaping since 2017.

"These cases of acute vaping-induced lung injury are still being investigated by the FDA, but highlight the damage that can be caused to the airways. The only people who may benefit from their use are smokers who have struggled to quit using traditional methods, and this should be part of a smoking cessation program with full cessation supports, and shouldn’t be used by non-smokers.

"As the government considers regulation of the vaping industry in New Zealand, we as respiratory professionals would implore the government to make every effort to protect the airways of our youth and non-smokers, in order to prevent further harm being done."

Chief Executive Letitia Harding adds that, despite everything being claimed in the public arena, no vaping or e-cigarette products have been FDA approved for use as a smoking cessation device.

"We fully encourage smoking cessation, but our stance has always been that FDA approved methods are still the way to go. Vaping isn’t one of them. It’s heartening to see others, like the New Zealand Māori Council, joining the debate on the side of facts. We would like to see the Ministry of Health actively campaigning that these products should not be used by youth, rather than the only  focus being on vaping to quit.

"Above all else, make sure you know where information is coming from. The people who are out there promoting vaping on TV, on radio, on social media, are often people with financial stakes in vaping. We’ve got entrepreneurs trying to make their mark in this new Wild West of an industry, but they’re here to make money, not improve health outcomes."

For more on vaping and its associated health effects, go to Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ's website ‘ Vaping - Some More Facts’.