The Irish Vape Vendors Association have expressed their exasperation that with only seven days until the EU Tobacco Products Directive comes into force, the government is at risk of not meeting the deadline to implement it, and their members still do not have full details on what they need to do in order to fully comply.
Their spokesperson Gillian Golden said today that although some details have been forthcoming, with only seven working days until the EU directive must be transposed into Irish law, the government does not have a fully implemented regulation for the directive in place, the Department of Health has issued no guidelines on notification fees or compliance, and there has been an unwillingness by the department to even consult with their members on how they are to become compliant.
Last year Public Health England released a report that found e-cigarettes to be 95% less harmful than tobacco cigarettes, with no discernible harm to bystanders. The body that provides training to smoking cessation centre workers in the UK issued a guideline in January on how to advise smokers to use e-cigarettes as part of a quit attempt.
Since then there have been some policy changes in the areas in the UK such as use on some NHS hospital grounds, their role in stop-smoking clinics, and wider public health messaging.
Just last month, the Royal College of Physicians in London issued a report in which they urged doctors to widely recommend their use by smokers as a way of reducing smoking prevalence, as a harm reduction measure. Aspects of the Tobacco Products Directive were highlighted in the RCP report as having a possible negative effect on public health, as e-cigarette companies will no longer be able to advertise that their products are safer than smoking, warning labels may put smokers off trying them, and restrictions on higher nicotine levels in the products may not satisfy those who now smoke heavily and they may relapse to smoking.
A debate took place at Westminster yesterday in the House of Lords, in which Conservative peer Charles Cathcart said:
‘’To my mind, restricting nicotine strength to 2% will be particularly damaging, but I would say that, as I still use the 2.4%—as do about a quarter of e-cigarette users. By taking up vaping, I hope to keep the grim reaper at bay for a little longer. I hope that when I run out of my 2.4% nicotine supply and I am forced to use the weaker nicotine, I do not switch back to smoking. That is the danger for many e-cigarette users. Perhaps by the time I run out of my 2.4% nicotine supply, stronger nicotine may be available on the black market, with all the dangers that that will entail.’’
‘’Something that represents such a massive positive public health opportunity needs sound policies, based on good evidence,’’ said Golden, ‘’sadly, what we actually have is this European legislation based on a risk averse interpretation of the science that was available more than two years ago – and we don’t even have all the details of Ireland’s implementation of that. With a week until the law commences, we really need to know what it will require.’’
‘’Government figures tell us there are over 5,800 people every year dying from a smoking related illness, they should be doing everything they can to introduce policies that help smokers and reduce that terrible statistic.’’
Public Health England Report – https://www.gov.uk/government/news/e-cigarettes-around-95-less-harmful-than-tobacco-estimates-landmark-review
NCSCT Guidelines: http://www.ncsct.co.uk/publication_electronic_cigarette_briefing.php
Royal College of Physicians Report: https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/projects/outputs/nicotine-without-smoke-tobacco-harm-reduction-0
House of Lords Debate transcript: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Lords/2016-05-10/debates/16051044000179/TobaccoAndRelatedProductsRegulations2016
Dept of Health statistics on number of smoking related deaths annually: http://health.gov.ie/healthy-ireland/tobacco/
Glasgow hospitals roll back vaping ban: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-36084268