HSE bans e-cigarettes – Yesterday, the HSE announced its plans to ban the use of e-cigarettes in all HSE facilities around the country from May 1st. This follows a “safety review” carried out by the HSE and is in line with its National Tobacco Free Campus Policy.
The HSE has imposed this ban for two main reasons:
- “Because e-cigarettes resemble ordinary cigarettes, their use may promote or re-normalise smoking, disrupt the environment for non-smokers, make it harder for smokers to quit and for the HSE to support smoke-free policies”
- “There is no conclusive evidence for or against the safety of e-cigarette use, especially long-term, or the potential effects of passive exposure to emissions from electronic cigarettes. WHO is of the view that the safety of e-cigarettes has not been scientifically demonstrated and the potential risks they pose for the health of users remains undetermined.”
VIP opposes the ban on e-cigarettes in HSE facilities
While we agree with the HSE in terms of the importance of banning smoking in hospitals and clinics, we are opposed to the ban on e-cigarettes. We oppose the ban for 3 main reasons:
- E-cigarettes are not a tobacco product and should not be treated as such.
- Further restrictions on e-cigarettes means that people could go back to smoking
- Before e-cigarettes are banned, they should be tested by an independent body.
Smoking is filling up the emergency departments
First, we don’t agree that electronic cigarettes should be treated in the same way as tobacco products.
Banning them as part of the Tobacco-free policy is not helpful in terms of classification. In an earlier blog post we spoke about e-cigarettes being classified by the E.U. as consumer products. As Joe pointed out on The Last Word with Matt Cooper:
“The bottom line for electronic cigarettes is that it is not a tobacco product.”
The real issue here is the danger from tobacco cigarettes. As Chris Luke, Emergency Department consultant at CUH also said on the programme:
“At the end of the day, tobacco is one of the great drivers of over-crowding in our emergency departments.”
Getting tobacco confused with e-cigarettes is not helpful in terms of the people that are using e-cigarettes as a way of quitting smoking.
Vapers are left out in the cold
Secondly, we believe that the ban is unfortunate for those that have made the switch from smoking to vaping. Vapers now find themselves being punished for choosing an alternative to smoking. It is possible that as vaping becomes more inaccessible, many will return to smoking:
“There’s a huge amount of people using these electronic cigarettes to switch from smoking to vaping or else as a stepping stone to quit smoking…and I think if we keep pushing this into a small box somewhere, what it is going to do is limit people’s access to the product and it could lead them to fo back smoking because they’re being pushed back out into smoking areas or beer gardens…back into the place that they’ve finally decided to leave.”
E-cigarettes need to be regulated and tested
Thirdly, both Chris Luke and Joe were able to agree that the testing of e-cigarettes by an independent body is very necessary to improve the product for consumer use.
At VIP, we welcome regulation and testing as we know that there are many inferior products on the market at the moment. Testing and regulation would provide a better consumer experience and would ensure the safe consumption of the product.
In the U.S., the FDA is implementing regulation on e-cigarettes which ensure that all producers label ingredients on all packaging. We hope that the E.U. and the Irish government follow this example.
A final point…
Public interest consultant Clive bates has recently suggested that whatever peoples’ opinions are on the minor risks associated with e-cigarettes, according to the WHO, it is estimated at 1 billion people will die in the 21st century due to tobacco-related illness. Surely the human benefits associated with avoiding these deaths should be at the fore front of peoples minds.
What are your views on the banning of e-cigarettes from HSE facilities?