The Electronic Cigarette Working Committee (the Committee) was established from 5 June 2020 to 4 September 2022 to oversee and provide expertise for the update of the 2017 NHMRC CEO Statement on Electronic Cigarettes. It is an advisory committee established under section 39 of the National Health and Medical Research Council Act and reports to the Council of NHMRC. 

Appointments to the Committee were made with consideration of expertise needed to update the 2017 Statement, including research skills, epidemiology, marketing, toxicology, and smoking cessation knowledge. Other considerations included expertise in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, consumer representation, jurisdictional distribution, gender balance and panel size.

Terms of Reference

In undertaking the update, the Committee have: 

  1. Determined the scope of the update based on consideration of the currency, accuracy and relevance of the 2017 CEO Statement and other topics such as:
    • the direct health risks that e-cigarette products (including devices and liquids) may pose to users and non-users (with and without nicotine);
    • the impact of e-cigarettes on smoking cessation;
    • the impact of e-cigarettes on smoking initiation and continuation;
    • dual use of e-cigarettes and conventional tobacco products;
    • product safety; 
    • e-cigarette related advertising and promotional activities and measures; 
    • conflicts of interest that may bias research findings related to e-cigarettes; and
    • key gaps in the evidence.
  2. Guided the development of an evaluation of the evidence, including providing advice on the research protocol/questions, e-cigarette marketing and use and health outcomes of interest. This includes considering feedback received from methodological review of the draft research protocol and draft evidence evaluation report.
  3. Considered the outcomes of the evidence evaluation, and use these findings, in addition to other information as advised by NHMRC, to inform the development of an:
    • evidence evaluation report that synthesises the evidence and identifies critical gaps in the current evidence base and
    • updated CEO Statement.
  4. Considered feedback received during targeted consultation and independent expert review on the draft Statement.

Summary of committee members’ experience, expertise and disclosures 

Professor
Catherine
Chamberlain

Professor Indigenous Health, Centre for Health Equity, Melbourne School of Public Health 

Professor Chamberlain is a Cochrane review author and tobacco researcher who has worked on several reviews and Cochrane editorials. She has over 25 years’ experience in reproductive and child health, including program and hospital service management, policy implementation, guideline development and evidence-based research. 

Her expertise and research areas include Indigenous peoples, perinatal health, and public health, transforming human societies, understanding disease and equity.

Declaration

  • Receives an NHMRC Early Career Fellowship (2015-2018) and Career Development Fellowship (CDF; 2019-2022) and Chief Investigator on two NHMRC grants, including Chief Investigator 'A'. The focus of her CDF is evidence-based life-course approaches to improving health equity in the perinatal period, including addressing intergenerational trauma.
  • Melbourne GRADE Centre and International GRADE Working Group Member. Including funding for international travel for training.
  • Lead author for a Cochrane Systematic Review (CSR) on Psychosocial Interventions to Promote Smoking Cessation in Pregnancy; a second author on a CSR on Pharmacological Interventions to Promote Smoking Cessation in Pregnancy (which includes e-cigarettes).
  • Previously received funding from the Australian Department of Health, NHMRC, UK NIHR and WHO, to assist in updating these reviews.
  • Author on several Cochrane reviews and Cochrane editorial on ‘Can Cochrane reviews help to improve Indigenous health?’
  • Has been an invited expert reviewer for “Behavioural Counselling and Pharmacotherapy Interventions for Tobacco Cessation in Adults, including Pregnant Women: A Review of Reviews for the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force. 2015” which included e-cigarettes.
  • Co-author on a paper on tobacco control and co-author on a submitted article describing e-cigarette use among Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Adolescents.
  • Has professional working relationships with other academics contracted by NHMRC to undertake evidence reviews, including for e-cigarettes.

Deputy Chair, Professor
Matthew
Peters

Respiratory Physician and Head of Respiratory Medicine at Concord Hospital 

Professor Peters has long had an interest in preventative health and is the past President of the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand. As well as holding academic appointments at Macquarie University and the University of Sydney, he was Chair of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) for many years and in 2019 was made a Member of the Order of Australia for his significant service to medical education. 

His research interests include respiratory physiology and the pulmonary and cardiac responses to hypoxia.  

Declaration

  • Member of the Expert Advisory Group for the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners smoking cessation clinical practice guidelines. The Guidelines included a section on Electronic Cigarettes.
  • Member of the National E-cigarette Monitoring and Evidence Consortium.
  • Member of the Cancer Institute NSW Vaping Communications Advisory Panel.
  • Co-chair of the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand Working Group that developed the TSANZ position statement on Electronic Cigarettes.
  • Received honoraria for Advisory Board membership for GSK in relation to asthma and COPD products. GSK is separately a manufacturer of smoking cessation products.
  • Lectured in Melbourne at a closed meeting, organised and supported by Pfizer. Topic of the lecture was Benefits of Smoking Cessation. Necessary travel and accommodation was provided, however offered honorarium was declined.
  • Has published a number of peer-reviewed and other publications over the past 10 years relevant to tobacco control, electronic cigarettes and smoking cessation.

Professor
Renee
Bittoun

Professor, Medicine at the University of Notre Dame Australia

Professor Bittoun is recognised internationally as an expert in smoking cessation and has worked in the field for 30 years. 
She is an inaugural member of the International Society for Research in Nicotine and Tobacco and started one of the world’s first Smokers’ Clinics at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney. 

As well as being a clinical consultant to various facilities and health groups, she is also the founder and Editor-in-Chief of the international peer-reviewed Journal of Smoking Cessation, published by Cambridge University Press.

Declaration

  • Member of Vaping Advisory Committee, Western Sydney Local Health District, NSW.
  • Member, National E-cigarettes Monitoring and Evidence Consortium, ANU, Canberra, ACT.
  • Founding Editor in Chief of The Journal of Smoking Cessation, Cambridge University Press. Review and directs Journal Articles regarding Smoking Cessation.
  • Consultant Academic at The Department of Addictology, The Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic.
  • Teaches “Nicotine Addiction and Smoking Cessation” courses, Federal, State Health, Indigenous Health Services, Drug and Alcohol Services, University of Sydney’s Woolcock Institute, University of Notre Dame Australia, Schools of Medicine, Avondale University College and Lifestyle Medicine.
  • Publicly debated views on E-cigarettes and spoken at Doctor forums.
  • Supervised Research in Tobacco Use: Smoking Cessation in Pregnancy Tobacco Use in the Pacific
  • Research in Smoking Cessation in Drug and Alcohol Services.
  • Professor, Nicotine Addiction Unit, Lifestyle Medicine, Avondale University, Australia.

Associate Professor
Richard
Brightwell

Consumer representative at Health Consumers Council of Western Australia 

Associate Professor Brightwell is a retired academic who concentrates on consumer health representation and effective consumer advocacy. 

His area of interest is in prevention of health deficit and smoking cessation, and he has been a consumer representative on a number of state and federal government committees.

Declaration

  • Consumer representative on the Review Reference Group, Post-market Review of Medicines for Smoking Cessation. 
  • Consumer representative on the Australian Digital Health Agency – Electronic Prescribing – National Change and Adoption Work Group.

Professor
Dallas
English

Senior Principal Research Fellow at Cancer Council Victoria 

Professor English works at the Cancer Council Victoria, which is affiliated with Cancer Council Australia. He also has an appointment as Honorary Professorial Fellow in the Centre of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, the University of Melbourne. Previously, he was Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. 

Professor English has held a number of national and international research grants and published numerous research articles. His research areas include epidemiology, cancer epidemiology and cancer screening.

Declaration

  • Employed part-time with Cancer Council Victoria, which is affiliated with Cancer Council Australia.
  • Cancer Council Australia recommends that the retail sale of non-nicotine electronic cigarettes be banned, the smoke free laws in each state and territory cover electronic cigarette use, and that advertising and promotion of e-cigarettes be banned.
  • States that he was not involved in developing the Cancer Council recommendation on e-cigarettes, has not been involved in the area of e-cigarettes at the Cancer Council, has not published any personal opinions on e-cigarettes and is not bound by the recommendations made by the Cancer Council. 

Associate Professor
Becky
Freeman

Associate Professor at the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney

Associate Professor Freeman has 22 years of experience working in the tobacco control field and is well versed in program and policy best practice. Associate Professor Freeman in an established authority on the potential of the internet to circumvent tobacco advertising bans and has pioneered research methods in tracking and analysing online social media content. 

Her primary research interests include tobacco control, commercial determinants of health, and the influence of online and social media on public health. 

Declaration

  • Member of the National E-cigarette Monitoring and Evidence Consortium.
  • Member of the Cancer Institute NSW Vaping Communications Advisory Panel.
  • Contracted by Cancer Council NSW to lead, advise and assist on a research project on youth vaping attitudes, beliefs, and knowledge (2021-2024). 
  • Funded by Healthway for two research projects regarding youth e-cigarette appeal, and e-cigarette promotion on social media.
  • Investigator on an Ian Potter Foundation funded grant in partnership with Deakin University tracking online advertising and promotion of e-cigarettes (2022-2024).
  • Received consulting payment for the preparation of e-cigarette policy review for the NSW National Heart Foundation and Consulting payment from the Cancer Council Australia to update evidence for position statement of e-cigarettes. Consulting fees received from Australian health NGOs for the preparation of e-cigarette evidence and policy reviews.
  • Lead the Prevention Research Collaboration University of Sydney team that prepared a discussion paper and public health expert consultation on e-cigarette regulation in Australia for the Commonwealth Department of Health.
  • Attended a conference and presented on e-cigarette regulation where travel expenses were reimbursed by the Asian Center for WTO & International Health Law and Policy, National Taiwan University, College of Law.
  • Presented a plenary on evidence that e-cigarettes support smoking cessation at the Oceania Tobacco Control Conference 2017, for which travel expenses (flight and registration) were reimbursed.
  • Held a 2015-2019 NHMRC ECR fellowship which included an exploration of e-cigarette advertising and media.
  • Provided opinion (unpaid) at Australian Parliament’s Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport public hearing into the Use and Marketing of Electronic Cigarettes and Personal Vaporisers on 8 September 2017.
  • Presented seminars (unpaid) on Vaping/E-Cigarettes for Local Health Districts (May 2021). 
  • Authored a number of articles about e-cigarettes and tobacco control in peer review journals and other publications.
  • Comments publicly on social media and to journalists on e-cigarette topics. 

Dr
Kerry
Nugent

Principal Scientist at the Australian Industrial Chemicals Introduction Scheme (AICIS) (previously the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme, NICNAS) 

Dr Nugent has a PhD in Chemistry and focuses on toxicology, particularly the role of chemistry in toxicological responses. 

As a career highlight, he developed and managed the NICNAS IMAP program, and was involved in international activities to increase the availability of risk-based information on chemicals.  

Declaration

  • Member of the Advisory Committee on Chemical Scheduling, which is involved in setting present and future government standards on chemicals potentially in e cigarettes.

Professor
Margaret
Otlowski

Professor of Law, Faculty of Law and Vice Chancellor’s Envoy (Europe) at the University of Tasmania

Professor Otlowski is an established health scholar, and in 2015 was made a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law. She has published extensively in the field and has been engaged by Commonwealth and State Governments and agencies to consult and be a member for various committees, including two NHMRC principal committees (2009-2015), the Australian Health Ethics Committee and the Human Genetics Advisory Committee. 

She is currently the Professor of Law and Vice Chancellor’s Envoy (Europe) at the University of Tasmania. She has had extensive quasi-judicial experience as a member of the Commonwealth Social Security Appeals Tribunal, the Tasmanian Guardianship and Administration Board, and the Tasmania Anti-Discrimination Tribunal. She previously served as the University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor, Culture and Wellbeing (2018-2020).

Declaration

  • Chief Investigator on NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence (2017-2021) for ‘From Discovery to Therapy in Genetic Eye Disease’.
  • Chief Investigator on research grants funded by the ARC and Medical Research Future Fund and Genomics Health Future Mission in areas unrelated to e-cigarettes. 
  • Professor of Law, Faculty of Law, University of Tasmania and former Dean (2010-2017).

Professor
David
Thomas

Professor, Wellbeing and Preventable Chronic Diseases Division at the Menzies School of Health Research

Professor Thomas has worked in Indigenous health and health research for 30 years. He has worked as a doctor for three Aboriginal community controlled health services, and established and led the Tobacco Control Research Program at Menzies since 2007. 

He has completed research in many aspects of Indigenous tobacco control including Cochrane reviews, qualitative research, and RCTs, evaluations of local and national policies and projects, and monitoring smoking trends. Similarly, he is actively involved in the translation of research into policy.

Declaration

  • Worked in the development of a related guideline (which mentions e-cigarettes and the previous NHMRC CEO Statement): Thomas DP, Abbot P. Smoking. In: National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation and The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. National guide to a preventative health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 3rd edition. East Melbourne, Vic: RACGP, 2018.
  • Author of peer reviewed publications on tobacco control.  
  • Delivered speeches on Indigenous tobacco control, smoking and e-cigarettes.
  • Associate Investigator on the NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence on Achieving the Tobacco Endgame (2020-2024).
  • Has provided advice to the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners on the related proposed Medicare Benefits Schedule it on nicotine smoking cessation.
  • Has professional working relationships, including co-authorship and co-investigation, with other academics contracted by NHMRC to undertake evidence reviews, including for e-cigarettes.

Professor
Nick
Zwar

Executive Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences at Bond University

Professor Zwar has 30 years clinical experience as a general practitioner, and continues to work part time while being the Executive Dean at the Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine at Bond University. 

His research interests include the prevention and management of chronic illness, with a focus on respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Similarly, he is interested in tobacco control, health promotion in primary care, immunisation and travel health.  

Declaration

  • The Chair of the Expert Advisory Group for the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Smoking Cessation Clinical Practice Guidelines. The Guidelines included a section on electronic cigarettes.  
  • Associate investigator on NHMRC funded study of adding nicotine containing e-cigarettes to behavioural treatment for low socio-economic group smokers.
  • Member Quit Centre Advisory Committee.