New strategy document misses opportunity

New Cancer Strategy should have acknowledged harm reduction opportunities, say independent vape industry.

 

The 2017-2026 Cancer Strategy published today misses out an opportunity to harness the enormous public health benefits of vaping, say the Irish Vape Vendors Association. The measures included in the strategy document to strengthen cancer prevention in the context of smoking rely on the existing Tobacco Free Ireland plan, delivered by Healthy Ireland.

 

But neither of these two frameworks acknowledge that if smokers can’t or don’t want to quit smoking, switching to a safer way of consuming nicotine like vaping is a valid and desirable outcome.

 

We’re seeing the biggest reduction in smoking in recent times by our neighbours in England, where harm reduction has been part of the national conversation for 3 years now. Across the EU, 6.1 million smokers have chosen to switch to safer consumer products and become smoke free, British cancer researchers are trialing how vaping can improve the lives of smokers who have received a cancer diagnosis, and there’s a concerted effort to inform smokers about vaping.

 

In Westminster last week, British Labour MPs Sir Kevin Barron and Gloria De Piero described support for vaping a social justice issue, given that vaping is cheaper than smoking and those on lower incomes are more likely to smoke. In the Cancer Strategy published today, lung cancer shows strong patterns of increasing incidence with increasing deprivation.

 

Ireland should be at the stage where the Department of Health no longer ignores the benefits of smokers switching to vaping, so to find zero mention of harm reduction policies in today’s publication was somewhat disappointing.