A critique of the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council CEO statement on electronic cigarettes

Addiction. 2023 Jun;118(6):1184-1192. doi: 10.1111/add.16143. Epub 2023 Feb 20.


This paper critically analyses a statement by Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) on e-cigarettes in May 2022 that will be used to guide national policy. We reviewed the evidence and the conclusions drawn in the NHMRC Statement. In our view, the Statement is not a balanced reflection of the benefits and risks of vaping because it exaggerates the risks of vaping and fails to compare them to the far greater risks of smoking; it uncritically accepts evidence of harms from e-cigarettes while adopting a highly sceptical attitude towards evidence of their benefits; it incorrectly claims that the association between adolescent vaping and subsequent smoking is causal; and it understates the evidence of the benefits of e-cigarettes in assisting smokers to quit. The Statement dismisses the evidence that vaping is probably already having a positive net public health effect and misapplies the precautionary principle. Several sources of evidence supporting our assessment were published after the NHMRC Statement's publication and are also referenced. The NHMRC Statement on e-cigarettes does not present a balanced assessment of the available scientific literature and fails to meet the standard expected of a leading national scientific body.

Keywords: E-cigarette; nicotine; public health; smoking; tobacco treatment; vaping.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Australia
  • Biomedical Research*
  • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems*
  • Humans
  • Smoking Cessation*
  • Vaping*