… that's where we've got to try and find that sweet spot if you like, where you give people access to vaping products. People who smoke, you give them access. You don't make it too hard, but you don't make it too easy so that other people who don't smoke can access them and start using them. And I think part of that too, there needs to be … good clear messaging around relative risk. We're not saying that e-cigarettes are safe. Safe sort of implies that it's 100% safe, it's all great. There's likely to be some long term risk involved in using them, but for smokers, that risk is many, many times less than continuing to smoke.
Whilst the vast majority of people, all around the world, know that smoking can be catastrophic for their health, cigarettes remain a powerful and enduring motif in popular culture. People still take it up and, of course, once you’re hooked, you’re hooked.
Enter e-cigarettes. They’ve been rather sly don’t you think? E-cigarettes have slipped quietly and quickly into the lives of many smokers, promoting themselves as a much healthier option to dirty old cigarettes. But are they the silver bullet they claim to be or is it more sinister than that? Where’s the research to back up the benefits? Are there any harms? Should we be worried about the increasing trend of young people taking up e-cigarettes?
In this wide-ranging discussion, public health and behaviour experts Hayden McRobbie and Alys Havard discuss the merits of e-cigarettes and whether they are a legitimate tool to break addiction, or just a smoke screen.
Presented by the UNSW Centre for Ideas and UNSW National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC).
The Centre for Ideas’ international conversation series brings the world to Sydney. Each digital event brings a leading UNSW thinker together with their international peer or hero to explore inspiration, new ideas and discoveries.
Professor Hayden McRobbie has worked in the field of behavioural medicine for more than 20 years and is a senior clinician with a specialist interest in lifestyle medicine.
He holds a medical degree from the University of Otago, New Zealand; a doctorate from the University of London; is Professor in Public Health Interventions at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at UNSW Sydney; and is a Fellow of the Australasian Society for Lifestyle Medicine.
McRobbie plays a key role in tobacco control in New Zealand with his current focus being the prevention and management of long-term health conditions in the Māori population. He is currently part of a diverse, global team shortlisted for the Cancer Grand Challenges, with the chance to secure a share of £80 million in funding to tackle cancer’s toughest challenges.
In the past three years, I have received:
Honoraria for speaking at smoking cessation meetings and attending advisory board meetings that have been organised by Pfizer
Grants from the National Institute of Health Research (UK), National Health and Medical Research Council (Australia), and the ---Health Research Council (New Zealand)
I have no links with the manufacturers of tobacco or vaping products.
Dr Alys Havard is a Senior Research Fellow at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre and the Centre for Big Data Research in Health, both at UNSW Sydney. Her research uses linked data to improve our understanding of how prescription medicines are used at the population-level, and their safety and effectiveness in real-world settings.
Havard has a particular interest in medicines used to treat substance use disorders and her recent research has examined the use, effectiveness and safety of quit smoking medicines among pregnant women who smoke, and people who have had a major cardiovascular event. Havard is supported by a NSW Health Early-Mid Career Fellowship.