NEWCASTLE researcher Billie Bonevski will examine whether electronic cigarettes can help smokers quit in a $200,000 pilot study for the Victorian health department.
The study, which will be carried out at Melbourne’s Turning Point treatment centre, will focus on people entering drug and alcohol treatment, who are five times more likely to smoke.
It will follow up with the smokers six and twelve weeks afterwards to track their progress.
The devices heat liquid nicotine, contained within a glycol or glycerine solution, to produce vapor.
“Smoking is prohibited while people are in a health program but what usually happens is that they reach for their tobacco cigarettes as soon they step outside the doors,” she said.
Nicotine e-cigarettes are heavily restricted in Australia but readily available overseas. The study will require prescriptions.
“In our trial we will be giving people e-cigarettes upon discharge so they have an alternative,” Professor Bonevski said.
“We really need more research to determine how safe and effective e-cigarettes are.”
“Some people believe that e-cigarettes will lead young people to take up tobacco cigarettes but there is no data from overseas to suggest that’s the case,” Professor Bonevski said.
“A major international review found last year that e-cigarettes are 95 per cent safer than tobacco equivalents. It’s the nicotine that keeps people addicted but it’s the tobacco and other toxic compounds that are causing cancer and other ill-effects.