I write to you on behalf of Respect Vapers, a grassroots consumer coalition raising the voice of Ireland’s 200,000+ vapers.
Last night, Respect Vaping hosted a roundtable event on Zoom. The link below is to a recording of some of the sounds bites from three of the speakers. I ask that you look at these three short clips before you attend the upcoming Commission meeting on tobacco and vaping.
The first speaker is Professor Lion Shahab (Professor of Health Psychology at University College London). Lion is Co-Director of the UCL Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group. His research interests are broad but include research into novel smoking cessation interventions, smoking and mental health, and smoking-related health education in the health profession.
Professor Shahab discussed how electronic cigarettes have been in use for over a decade by now, and how there is clear and growing evidence from highly controlled trials, and population studies, that they are effective in helping smokers to stop using the most lethal of products: combustible cigarettes. “They have had a tremendous impact on tobacco control. It is important to remember that they are a harm reduction product. Harm reduction is not about risk elimination but about a utilitarian risk calculus: to reduce risk for the largest number of people,” he said.
The second speaker is Dr Garrett McGovern (Medical Doctor and founder of the Priority Medical Clinic). Garrett has over 20 years of experience working as a GP specializing in the treatment of addiction. He is the Medical Director of the Priority Medical Clinic, a private addiction treatment clinic in Dublin and a member of the board of directors of EUROPAD (European Opiate Addiction Treatment Association).
In the clip he says that he cannot understand why the IRISH medics have decided not to embrace vaping as a way of reducing the number of people smoking.
Finally, Michael Dwyer from Gorey Co Wexford tells us how he used vaping to give up smoking, and how he still, very occasionally, uses it to stop himself from going back to smoking.
There are many unsubstantiated and damaging myths about vaping. The coalition Respect Vapers, a grassroots consumer coalition raising the voice of Ireland’s 200,000+ vapers want to ensure that policy makers consider all the available facts, scientific evidence and research on the regulation of vapour products.
While vaping may not be for everyone, it is nonetheless important that people who freely wish to vape be allowed to do something that is, according to Public Health England, 95% less harmful than smoking and can be used to help these people move away from tobacco products. Irish vapers urge the EU not to include vaping in the same category as smoking tobacco.
Responsible vaping reduces the number of people who smoke tobacco. Even without official acceptance of vaping as an effective smoking cessation aid, we can see, from the Healthy Ireland Surveys, that Irish smokers are already using vaping as an effective means of stopping smoking.
Commissioner, as former journalist that has always been committed to balance and accuracy, please listen to the 200,000 people in Ireland who quit cigarettes thanks to vaping and to the experts who support the benefits of vaping.
- Vaping is not tobacco.
- It does not involve smoking.
- Vaping is 95% less harmful, according to 423 studies over ten years by 50 doctors/experts.
- Over 200,000 smokers in Ireland have successfully quit the habit thanks to vaping.
- Vaping products are 70% more effective in supporting smokers to successfully quit than nicotine replacement therapy.
- Youth smoking is at an all-time low in Ireland; vaping does not lead to youth smoking.
- Increasing the tax on vaping products won’t protect children.
- Respect Vapers strongly advocate prohibiting the sale of vaping products to under 18s.
In Ireland 5,900 people die of smoking related illnesses every year, and government smoking cessation projects have resolutely failed to reach their proposed targets, as even the HSE admits. The HSE currently projects that it will need an additional 27 years to hit the targets laid out in the Tobacco Free Ireland plan.
The UK, which has been an early advocate of the usage of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid, has seen its smoking rate fall by 5.5% between 2011 and 2018. Ireland, which has not taken the UK’s progressive stance on harm reduction, saw its own smoking rate fall by only about half that of the UK over the same period. Even so we can see, from the Healthy Ireland 2018 survey, that 41% of Irish smokers who stopped smoking in the previous year did so with the help of electronic cigarettes. More and more smokers are using vaping to quit smoking and 99% of vapers are ex-smokers.
By making vaping more difficult to access, we risk stopping people from moving off cigarettes or potentially pushing vapers back to smoking. By the time you finish work today up to 18 Irish people will have died from smoke-related illnesses. By allowing smokers to make the choice to try vaping you will help achieve a Tobacco-Free Ireland by 2025.
Perhaps I could call your office to see when it would suit to meet in person or by video call.