Questions raised about information on Minstry of Health's vaping website by Asthma and Respiratory Foundation

An expert has warned against the dangers of vaping after the Ministry of Health launched a new website providing more information on e-cigarettes.

The site is part of a Government plan, kicking off in September, to recommend vaping as an alternative to smoking.

However, it's simply too soon to suggest smokers switch to vaping, according to Asthma and Respiratory Foundation chief executive Letitia O'Dwyer.

Ms O'Dwyer commended the website for providing more information on the alternative to smoking on TVNZ's Breakfast this morning, but added: "What is of concern is that they're saying 'smoking, then vaping', when actually, there are proven FDA-proven medical therapies out there which should be tried first, and then if those fail, then perhaps vaping may be an option for some people."

She added that there "are things that I think are missing" from the website, including information about some e-liquids containing nicotine, and vaping as a gateway to smoking for youth.

"There isn't a lot of regulations – it's pretty much self-regulated and what we do need to know is 'what are going into these e-liquids?' Some that say 'no nicotine' actually do have nicotine in them.

"We've got this website saying about vaping being an alternative to smoking, but there are products out there which have been FDA-approved, which have gone through rigorous trials, which should be tried first.

"We do actually know that there are studies showing that vaping can be a gateway to smoking in youth as well. On the website, it does state that there is no evidence that vaping is a gateway to smoking and actually, there is evidence."

Ms O'Dwyer said it was a shame that "the medical society, such as the Thoracic Society of Australia New Zealand, weren't consulted as to what goes into the website."

"A lot of the journals, information that's coming through at scientific level, it's vast and it's quickly developing and having somebody involved in that website, from that perspective, would have been a good idea."

Ms O'Dwyer added that she hoped the scientific community would "have more input into this website" in the future.

"Certainly, the horses already bolted and these products are already out on the market, so it's very hard to claw back all that information, but you need to stay on top of what it happening out there."

She advised current smokers wanting to kick the habit to try FDA-approved products before considering vaping as an option, but added that it "isn’t without harm".

"There can be problems associated with lung damage, so just try the proven medical therapies first, and then perhaps, maybe, vaping can be a solution."

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Asthma and Respiratory Foundation chief executive Letitia O’Dwyer joined Breakfast to discuss the alternative to smoking. Source: Breakfast

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