The Oxford Dictionary announced the Word of the Year for 2014 is vape, ( the act of using an electronic cigarette, as there is no smoke, only vapour) as Japanese researchers released evidence that significant levels of carcinogens are released in the vapour produced by several types of e- cigarette liquids during the act of " vaping".

Electronic cigarettes ( e- cigarettes ) are battery operated devices that create a mist for inhalation, which usually contains nicotine. They were developed in China and first released to the USA market in 2007. E- cigarette use ( vaping) mimics the sensory and behavioural aspects of smoking. They are smoke-free and tobacco free. The liquid in the refillable, or replaceable cartridges is usually a combination of nicotine ,flavorings, propylene glycol ( a solvent) and other additives. The amount of nicotine depends on the product, some are comparable to regular cigarettes and others are nicotine-free, with only flavourings.


E-cigarettes have limited long term research regarding the effect of compounds in the vapour of the various products.  The Japanese Health Ministry commissioned a study, the results were just released indicating that some of the e-cigarette liquids released formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, ( known carcinogens) at levels up to ten times more than regular cigarettes.

The toxic compounds in the vapor of other liquids may be less than cigarette smoke, but there is little data.

Nicotine is the key addictive component in tobacco and has limited health effects except in pregnancy.

Why use E-cigarettes?

Currently e- cigarettes are not approved as therapeutic products. Research to date from those who have used the devices give the following reasons:

  • to help quit smoking
  • as a long term replacement for smoking after quitting
  • to reduce the number of traditional cigarettes smoked
  • for temporary use in areas where smoking is banned

Do they work?

  • there is little evidence to support their use as an effective quitting tool again due to the lack of long term data

What are the other concerns?

  • due to lack of regulation and easy availability , they may act as a gateway to smoking, especially for the young
  • they can be used in public places and in social settings and may re- normalize smoking behavior and possible increase regular cigarettes use as a result -e-cigarettes may discourage quitting using other techniques and support addictive behaviors in non-smoking areas -smokers may use both e-cigarettes and routine cigarettes and not quit
  • the tobacco industry ( known for deceit and misinformation ) is increasingly involved in ownership and promotion, with an agenda to increase both the market for conventional and e-cigarettes.

Supporters say the devices are a safer alternative to traditional tobacco, but opponents remind us of the lack of long term information, particularly regarding their health effects.

The Australian Association of Smoking Cessation Professional ( collects information to help individuals and Health Professionals make informed decisions about the use of these and other products and regularly reviews the evidence .

<- Back to: News