Women who are pregnant, or think they might be pregnant, should be dissuaded from thinking e-cigarettes are a safe alternative to using regular tobacco products, according to an expert opinion published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.
Associate Professor Alexander Larcombe says a lack of detailed research on the safety or otherwise of “vaping” meant there was not sufficient evidence to support this belief.
“There is this general perception that it’s either orders of magnitude or completely safe to vape during pregnancy, which is completely unfounded and almost certainly not true, because women and babies are still potentially getting exposed to nicotine and other potentially harmful chemicals,” Professor Larcombe said.
“My concern is we just don’t know what the effects are on the unborn baby.”
Women of child-bearing age were Australia’s fastest growing and largest user group of electronic nicotine delivery systems, he said.
Another common misconception was that e-cigarette vapours were mainly water and did not pose a secondary-exposure threat those nearby and that those vapours were non-toxic.
“Water is not a common ingredient in e-liquids and water vapour generally only makes us a small proportion of aerosols, which typically contain propylene glycol, glycerine and a variety of potentially toxic chemicals, including volatile organic compounds, tobacco-specific nitrosamines, metals and particulate matter,” Professor Larcombe said.
Also of concern were findings by Professor Larcombe and colleagues that as many as six in 10 “nicotine-free” e-cigarette liquids available for sale in Australia did actually contain nicotine.