Health bodies urge ban on e-cigarettes in smoke-free areas

The Heart Foundation, The Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand and over 20 of the state’s most prominent health organisations are today calling for the NSW Minister for Health to ban the use of e-cigarettes in smoke-free areas in NSW.

“The laws in NSW currently allow people to use e-cigarettes anywhere – this means people can use them on buses and trains, at shopping centres, cafes, children’s playgrounds and schools,” said Kerry Doyle, Heart Foundation’s NSW Chief Executive.

NSW is one of the last states in Australia to prohibit the use of e-cigarettes in smoke-free public spaces. Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory have all already enacted legislation to protect their communities from exposure to e-cigarettes, and last week South Australia passed legislation in its lower house on e-cigarettes.

“Protecting people from exposure to e-cigarettes in smoke-free spaces would only take a simple amendment to the Smoke-free Environment Act 2000 to include e-cigarettes within the definitions of smoking and smoking products,” said Ms Doyle.

“We don’t fully understand the health impact e-cigarettes will have on individuals yet but there is cause for concern, especially for the lungs of the most vulnerable people in our community – babies, young children, people with medical conditions and the elderly,” said Professor Allan Glanville, President of the Thoracic Society. “We need to take a precautionary approach now to protect the general public while that evidence is being rigorously collected and analysed.”

“In NSW, people have not been allowed to smoke in most indoor public areas for over 17 years and even in many outdoor areas for almost eight years,” said Ms Doyle. “Smokers have managed for all that time, so it won’t be imposing any additional burden on them to consider the best interests of the 85 per cent of the NSW population who don’t smoke.”

Statistics

  • Alarmingly, in NSW young people are taking up e-cigarettes more than any other age group.
  • 16 per cent of young smokers in NSW are using e-cigarettes and a quarter of this group believe they are not as bad as cigarettes.
  • In 2014/15, one in seven Australians aged 15 years and over smoked daily and research on the risks of e-cigarette vapours is still being undertaken.

Signatories

  1. Australian Council on Smoking & Health
  2. Australian Health Promotion Association
  3. Asthma Australia
  4. Australian Dental Association NSW
  5. Australian Medical Association (NSW)
  6. Cancer Council NSW
  7. Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand
  8. Cystic Fibrosis Australia
  9. Diabetes NSW & ACT
  10. Heart Foundation
  11. Kidney Health Australia
  12. Prevention Research Collaboration
  13. Public Health of Australia Association
  14. MS Australia
  15. Royal Australasian College of Physicians
  16. Royal Australasian College of Surgeons
  17. Stroke Foundation
  18. Stroke Recovery Association NSW
  19. Thoracic Society of Australia & New Zealand
  20. Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists
  21. Red Nose
  22. Dementia Australia.

About the Heart Foundation

The Heart Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to fighting the single biggest killer of Australians – heart disease. For more than 50 years, it’s led the battle to save lives and improve the heart health of all Australians. Its sights are set on a world where people don’t suffer or die prematurely because of heart disease. Further information is available at www.heartfoundation.org.au.

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