Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly and the Health Service Executive’s (HSE) Quit Team must now acknowledge the positive role vaping plays as a less harmful alternative to smoking. That’s according to Vape Business Ireland (VBI), Ireland’s largest vaping trade association, reacting to the European Commission’s special Eurobarometer on the attitudes of Europeans towards tobacco and electronic cigarettes.
The study conducted across all European Union states and the UK between August and September 2020, revealed that 21 per cent of Irish smokers and ex-smokers used vaping products to stop or to try to stop smoking. This is almost twice the European average of 11 per cent.
Commenting, VBI spokesperson James Doran said: “This latest Eurobarometer shows that Ireland’s smoking rate at 18 per cent is significantly below the EU average of 23 per cent and that Ireland has the second highest percentage of people who used to smoke but who have stopped, at 34 per cent. This is in no small part testament to the success story of vaping over the past ten years in helping Irish people to move away from smoking with seven per cent of Irish people using vaping products compared to the EU average of two per cent.
“If the Irish Government is to achieve its objective of a Tobacco Free Ireland by 2025, it must now follow the example set by Governments in other jurisdictions such as New Zealand and the UK, in recognising that vaping is a less harmful alternative to smoking and that it can be as effective as nicotine replacement therapy, as confirmed by the major Cochrane Review in December. Independent vaping retailers like myself have seen first-hand the positive impact switching from cigarettes to vaping products continues to have on the lives of our customers as well as their family and friends.”
Mr Doran added: “This latest European research shows that stopping or reducing tobacco consumption was the first most frequently mentioned reason by users for taking up vaping products under the belief that they are less harmful than smoking tobacco. With the Public Health (Tobacco and Nicotine Inhaling Products) Bill soon to go before the Oireachtas Committee on Health for pre-legislative scrutiny, it is time that Irish policy makers stop ignoring the creditable evidence supporting vaping as a less harmful alternative to smoking. It is vitally important that balanced and well-rounded reviews are used to inform Ireland’s health policy making.
“The research also echoes the findings of the most recent Healthy Ireland survey which shows that Ireland has made significant strides in reducing smoking rates. While there is still a long way to go, our immediate concern is if Government fail to recognise vaping as the harm reduction tool that it is, we run the risk of preventing thousands more Irish smokers from quitting. Furthermore, should vaping products be subjected to inappropriate legislative restrictions there is a strong possibility that many Irish vapers will revert back to cigarettes reversing the positive ground made to date in reducing smoking numbers.”