Sir, – Muiris Houston takes a swipe at the health sector in Ireland as we are not fully embracing vaping as an alternative to smoking (“Irish anti-vaping sentiment needs to be stubbed out”, Health + Family, February 12th).
The debate on the potential positives and negatives associated with vaping is very much in progress on both sides of the Atlantic; a debate which is restricted to present-day knowledge and understandably no information on the longer-term consequences of the practice.
Vaping is about inhaling nicotine, a highly addictive product. While there are indications that vaping causes less harm than smoking tobacco and may assist with quitting smoking (which is to be applauded), there is, as yet, insufficient evidence to be sure that vaping does not carry some level of health risk.
The vaping industry is now largely controlled by the long-established tobacco industry, whose dubious record on health issues is well documented. This product will henceforth be manufactured and marketed as a profit-making device under the guise of being a safer product than tobacco. We must be cautious, and we must not be bullied by an industry that has enhanced its profits for over a century through its concerted lobbying activities.
The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has conducted two in-depth reports which involved input from experts in various aspects of smoking cessation from both home and abroad.
A key conclusion was that first-line aids to quitting should be the use of agents such as varenicline alone or in combination with nicotine replacement therapy for those smokers wishing to use pharmacological support to quit. While showing some potential there is currently not enough evidence to recommend the widespread use of e-cigarettes.
Additional information on the long-term safety of e-cigarettes use is needed. Furthermore, emerging data in relation to the social normalisation of e-cigarettes leading to increased uptake among people who have never smoked, and later migration to tobacco cigarettes are also of concern and need further study.
Our position on e-cigarettes is informed by evidence rather than by “sentiment”. ASH Ireland, Council of the Irish Heart Foundation would advise all smokers to quit and urges the Department of Health and the HSE to increase their level of public communication concerning the advantages and disadvantages of e-cigarettes so that those who are contemplating quitting smoking can make more informed decisions. – Yours, etc,
Dr PATRICK DOORLEY,
Irish Heart Foundation,
Rathmines Road Lower,