The Irish Vape Vendors Association was set up in 2014, at the behest of a number of vendors who all shared common goals. The organisation aims to promote and protect Irish vape business interests, to act as an advisory service (with respect to legislation, industry changes, emerging scientific data, etc..), and to advocate for fair and appropriate legislation.
Gillian began by speaking about the history of vaping within Ireland. Products began to be used roughly around 2008, but it wasn’t until 2012 that Ireland got it’s first bricks and mortar vape shop – the Ecirette Megastore. In fact, the vape industry bucked the trend of stores closing down to become online businesses and began online before also opening up visible premises.
Golden believes that the success the vaping industry has experienced in Ireland boils down to the unique way smokers can tailor their experience: “The success of the product, of why smokers are able to find success with the devices, relies on the user themselves being able to choose from a vast menu and a vast array of products to build their own solution.”
The Healthy Ireland Survey, according to Gillian, highlights that “never–smokers”, people who have never smoked or tried cigarettes, “aren’t interested in them”. They account for less than one percent of the total number of Irish citizens who vape. She added that this figure hasn’t changed since 2006 – absolutely no one has been drawn in to some so-called gateway.
Based on the data available, Gillian contends that if a smoker is presented with a choice of switching to vaping then they should take it. Moreover, that choice should be made as easy as possible – and this, for her and the IVVA means that manufacturers and vendors should be allowed to give out information and not be restricted by the Tobacco Products Directive.
“We in the independent industry can’t advertise them the way we would like to, to smokers. We can’t inform smokers the way we would like to about relative risks, about what they continue to do versus what will happen if they choose one of our products. And then we have to wait six months before we can put the products on the market after they are notified – and we’ve never been given a reason why that should be.”
She has an issue with the restrictions on bottle size, with the large warning labels (even on products that have no nicotine such as empty tanks), and otherwise law-abiding users are being forced to buy (now) illegal products. It all adds up to restricting the ease of access to a product with massive harm reduction potential.
You can watch Gillian’s full speech here.