Are E-cigarettes the Answer? Depends who’s asking.

Associate Professor Becky Freeman on e-cigarettes

On Tuesday 14 September 2021, Make Smoking History hosted Associate Professor Becky Freeman at the hybrid event Are E-cigarettes the Answer? Depends who’s asking. The Make Smoking History team were joined by community services and colleagues who work with community services from across Australia to learn more about e-cigarettes.

Picture of a presentation in progress. The shot is taken from behind the audience's chairs and tables, and presentation slides appear on the wall next to a speaker at a lecturn. Cancer Council pull-up banners are on the other side of the projection.

Becky is an Associate Professor at the University of Sydney and has research interests in tobacco control, food advertising and how online and social media influence public health. Becky is an expert advisor to the World Health Organization on strengthening tobacco advertising bans in the age of digital and online media. Despite coming to us from stage 4 lockdown in Auckland, New Zealand, Becky’s passion and enthusiasm for sharing her knowledge on e-cigarettes was apparent from the very beginning.

During her presentation, Becky covered terminology and highlighted that e-cigarettes can be referred to as e-cigs, Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), Electronic Non-Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENNDS), vapes/vaping, stigs, Juul and more.

Becky talked about the four generations of ENDS or ENNDS specifically mentioning how they are becoming smaller and more discrete, the extensive variety of flavours available and explained that heated tobacco products can bethought of as a product in-between traditional combustible cigarettes and e-cigarettes.

With the regulatory changes coming into effect in Australia from 1 October 2021, Becky talked us through the Federal and WA laws, highlighting that the law can differ between states and territories across Australia. We were directed to the TGA FAQ page for further information on the incoming changes.

Becky had a strong message for us:

“To date, no e-cigarette has been TGA approved as a cessation aid, unlike proven products such as lozenges, patches and gum.”

In addition, Becky reminded us that the long-term health and safety risks of e-cigarettes are unknown but despite the limited and short-term research and lack of high-quality studies with adequate follow-up, there are possible links to cardiovascular, respiratory health and cancer.

Twitter post that states 'if someone wants to quit smoking, e-cigarettes should not be first port of call. We need to first focus and prioritise on best practice evidence based cessation - combination of behavioural support (i.e. Quitline) and Nicotine Replacement Therapy." @DrBFreeman #AreEcigsTheAnswer.

Becky explained the tobacco and e-cigarette industries are pushing e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid despite it not being approved in Australia as one and their marketing tactics, including green washing, are targeting youth to use their products. The examples Becky shared with us encouraged us to question whether the advertising and marketing promotion tactics were really targeting adults who are desperate to quit.

To conclude her presentation, Becky had a clear take-home message,

Twitter post that states "We cannot expect community on the ground to tackle the challenges of e-cigarettes. Quality education NEEDS quality regulation with enforcement." Thank you @DrBFreeman for an insightful morning (hand clap emoji) #AreEcigsTheAnswer"

Make Smoking History Manager, Libby Jardine, wrapped the event up by outlining how the Make Smoking History program can support community, health and corrective services to ensure people are routinely offered information and support to reduce and quit smoking in a healthy smoke-free environment. To read more, click here.


You can find Becky on Twitter: @DrBFreeman

If you’d like more information on Cancer Council’s position statement one-cigarettes, please contact us at  

Last updated 14 September 2022


If you have already started making smoking history at your service, we want to hear from you! Sharing stories is a great way for us to learn from each other and broaden our impact. Contact us today.

Note: Only stories that meet our program principles can be shared on our website and in our e-news.

Free Quit Support

Talk to the Quitline

The Quitline is a confidential telephone advice and information service for people who want to quit smoking.

My QuitBuddy App

The My QuitBuddy App tracks your quitting progress, such as days smoke-free, cigarettes avoided, health gained and dollars saved.

Google Play ButtonApp Store Button
Proven Tips To Quit

Some people think quitting is about willpower, but to quit successfully means being prepared, and understanding your smoking triggers.

Find tips on quitting