The IVVA welcomes the announcement yesterday that vaping products will be included in a report by HIQA to be delivered to the HSE and the Department of Health.
The HTA (health technology assessment) report is in response to a request by the DoH and will look at the range of products that are currently used to help people away from smoking tobacco.
Due to be concluded before the end of 2016, the Health Information & Quality Authority team working on the report will be aided by an expert advisory group, and a public consultation on the draft will take place before the findings and HIQA advice are presented to the Minister for Health and the Health Service Executive.
In our opinion, that HIQA have included vaping marks the start of an important phase in Irish health policy.
The Public Health England report published last August found that the current evidence points to vaping being 95% less harmful than smoking. UK Stop Smoking Clinics are embracing tobacco harm reduction and becoming ”e-cig friendly”. More NHS hospitals in Scotland are following the evidence that vaping does not impact on bystanders and are allowing their use on hospital grounds.
Vaping represents a gain for the state here in terms of there being no cost to the taxpayer, incoming VAT & tax returns to the exchequer, and the employment that the growing independent sector provides. There is also the huge positive public health impact of having so many thousands of people now switched to using these less harmful products who no longer smoke.
The clinical and economic value of all currently available cessation methods will be assessed and the findings will then go to inform future policy on reducing smoking rates in the coming years.
According to the HIQA website, the terms of reference for the HTA are to:
- describe the range of smoking cessation therapies available
- review the effectiveness and safety of the available smoking cessation interventions and their impact on long term quit rates
- describe the epidemiology of smoking and smoking related-illness in Ireland
- compare the cost-effectiveness of interventions that are associated with improved rates of smoking cessation and to estimate the costs associated with these interventions within the public health system in Ireland
- examine any other relevant issues associated with potential changes to the provision of smoking cessation services by the HSE that may affect patients, staff or the organisation of existing services
- advise on the optimal use of smoking cessation interventions by the HSE, based on this assessment.
It is to be welcomed that the Department of Health wishes to take a closer look at vaping products within these terms of reference, and we look forward to HIQA’s findings with interest.