Dr Dean Mills is leading a research project investigating the effects of vaping on lung health and exercise.
Dr Dean Mills is leading a research project investigating the effects of vaping on lung health and exercise.

USQ calls for vapers to take part in Australian-first study

IN A world-first study, University of Southern Queensland researchers will investigate if the regular use of e-cigarettes in young and otherwise healthy adults can reduce lung function.

It called for young "vape" users to get involved.

Respiratory physiologist Dr Dean Mills said there was a pressing need for a greater understanding of the risks and health dangers of e-cigarettes.

"While the harmful effects of tobacco cigarettes are well-known, there is little evidence and knowledge about the health risks of e-cigarettes because they're relatively new," he said.

"This study will help us learn more about how the chemicals inside e-cigarettes interact with the body and lungs, and determine if and how they impact our ability to undertake exercise."

About 200,000 Australians use e-cigarettes, with the greatest use believed to be among young adults.

The most common reasons adults start using e-cigarettes is because they believe they are safer than smoking tobacco or can help them quit smoking, despite a lack of evidence of their effectiveness.

King Vapealot Superstore owner Craig Farquharson operates one of Toowoomba's largest vaping supply stores and said 95 per cent of his customers were current or former smokers who were looking for an alternative to tobacco.

He welcomed the study and hoped it would result in more people transitioning away from tobacco.

"Vaping has increased in popularity over the past three years, owing to the government increasing the price of cigarettes and because of the health benefits," he said.

"We have customers who are more than 60 years old, who have smoked all their lives and seen their lung function improve after taking up vaping."

Craig Farquharson smoked for 37 years but quit after taking up vaping.

"Vaping dramatically changed my life, and that is why I opened the shop," he said.

While Mr Farquharson swears by the health benefits, Dr Mills remains to be convinced.

He said the study was vital, especially for young people, as e-cigarettes might impair lung development and lead to long-term health problems.

"Adults who smoke in their teens can have lungs that never grow to their full potential and never perform at full capacity," Dr Mills said.

"This leaves them more susceptible to lung infections, including coughs, colds and even COVID-19.

"It's concerning that many young people are breathing into their bodies these chemicals contained in e-cigarettes without knowing the full repercussions and consequences to their lives and livelihoods."

USQ needs regular e-cigarette users, aged 18-35, who are otherwise healthy, to take part in the study.

Participants will be required to attend the university's Ipswich campus for a one-hour assessment, including lung function and exercise capacity testing.

Non-e-cigarette users are also needed as control participants for testing.

To be involved, phone 3812 6147 or email dean.mills@usq.edu.au.

 

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