P1.2.5 Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes)

E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that may deliver nicotine in a vapour without tobacco or smoke. Before these products can be recommended for consumers, further research must be conducted on their safety and efficacy for smoking cessation. E-cigarettes can relieve cravings and symptoms of nicotine withdrawal as well as simulating the behavioural and sensory aspects of smoking. A small number of randomised controlled trials have suggested that e-cigarettes could have a role in cessation and harm reduction. A study in New Zealand found they had similar effects on six month cessation rates to nicotine patch among smokers wanting to quit (7.3% for e-cigarettes compared to 5.8% for patch) and rates were higher than for the participants randomised to non-nicotine containing e-cigarettes (3.6%). With such a large variety of e-cigarette products on the market and little data on their nicotine delivery, it is not known if their results can be generalised and further research is needed before recommendations for their use can be confidently made (Bullen 2013, Caponnetto 2013). Concerns about e-cigarettes include a lack of evidence for short-term efficacy and short-and long-term safety, particularly in patients with current chronic disease. Rather than cessation, concurrent use with smoking may continue. A third of the participants allocated to e-cigarettes in a clinical trial reported continued product use at 6 months, suggesting that they might have become long-term e-cigarette users (Bullen 2013). There are also concerns that e-cigarettes may potentially act as a gateway to smoking (Pepper 2014). As stated in the e cigarettes position paper from the Forum of Respiratory Societies, since electronic cigarettes generate less tar and carcinogens than combustible cigarettes, use of electronic cigarettes may cause less disease related to these components. However, the health risks of electronic cigarettes have not been adequately studied.

Refer to the following web links for further information:


Therapeutic Goods Administration provides information:


Lung Foundation Australia has a position statement about electronic cigarettes: