Ireland has struggled with tobacco harm reduction to date and the latest focus could be prohibition over encouragement to switch.
Conversations are being held about banning the sale of tobacco products or drastically reducing the number of places where tobacco can be sold.
The plan is to put a select number of ideas out to the Irish public before making a final decision – but politicians are keen to bring about an “endgame” for a product that kills 5200 people a year.
Other possible approaches include reducing the quantity of nicotine allowed in cigarettes, banning filters, and forcing the tobacco industry to fund the costs borne by the health service.
The troubling thing for Ireland is that a leading vaping advocate criticised the Kiwi Government’s smokefree action plan and said it failed to fully recognise vaping as a viable alternative for New Zealand smokers keen to quit.
Nancy Loucas said: “It makes total sense to reduce the availability of tobacco products, but it made no sense to reduce the availability of vaping products which are 95% less harmful. However, that’s what has happened since 11 August, with general retailers now only permitted to sell three vaping flavours.
“There needs to be more promotion and resourcing for vaping as the reduced risk alternative to smoking. The smokefree action plan should have signalled that the Government’s will review recent vaping regulations to ensure they’re fit-for-purpose and future-proofed.”
The Irish Heart Foundation and the Irish Cancer Society are talking about ecigs though. The two organisations are pushing the government to ban juice flavours as part of the new tobacco control bill – saying that flavours encourage teens to take up vaping.
Chris Macey, the director of advocacy at the Irish Heart Foundation, told reporters: “Imagine trying to say that gummy bear flavours are aimed at adult, long-term smokers. Vaping and e-cigarettes are clearly a gateway for young people into cigarette smoking. Our own health research board did a report on all the research conducted so far and found that teenagers who use vaping are three to five times more likely to start smoking cigarettes.”
Irish Cancer Society’s Averil Power added: “Unfortunately, when it comes to e-cigarettes, Ireland is a laggard, not a leader. Estonia, Finland and Hungary have banned non-tobacco flavouring in e-cigarettes and the Netherlands announced its intention to do the same.”
Recently, a number of advocacy organisations have expressed concern to POTV that a decreasing number of vapers appear willing to get involved in campaigns. The pressure is on, and the question is ‘will Irish vapers take up the challenge and defend their right to access flavoured reduced harm products?’