Government must avoid a ban on flavours as part of any future legislation on vaping – Vape Business Ireland
Vaping has been shown to be a less harmful alternative to smoking, and flavours play a large role in helping smokers quit the habit, says VBI.
Vape Business Ireland (VBI), the country’s largest vaping trade association, notes media reports from 21 September 2023 that reveals the Government intends to ban the sale of disposable vaping devices and impose further restrictions on flavours and advertising.
Firstly, VBI welcomes the existing provisions of the Public Health (Tobacco and Nicotine Inhaling Products) Bill 2023, which will enact a ban on the sale of vapes to those under the age of 18. This is a milestone in sensible regulation which VBI has been asking for over the past eight years. The proposed licensing system to ensure that retailers are complying with these regulations is also a development welcomed by the association.
However, VBI contends that it would be a mistake to ban flavours, as they play a vital role in helping former smokers to quit the habit. The Healthy Ireland 2019 survey found that 38% of successful quitters used e-cigarettes to quit, compared to the 10% who used Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) products. Further to this, a study conducted by the European Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates in June 2021 found that 94.6% of current adult vapers use non-tobacco flavours. Based on this evidence, it is the belief of VBI that a ban on flavours would prevent former smokers from accessing a desirable alternative.
The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has previously remarked that any future legislation on vaping would follow the precedent set by the European Commission’s Tobacco Products Directive. There is evidence of how restrictions on flavours in other EU member states have not worked out as intended and have caused more issues rather than solving them. In Denmark, recent statistics from the Danish National Board of Health showed that the country’s ban on flavoured vaping products resulted in the illegal market growing and more people simply returning the smoking in the absence of a less harmful alternative. In Estonia, the sale of flavoured vaping products was effectively banned in 2019, before the restriction was loosened a year later due to increases in illegal trade.
Placing a ban on flavours and limiting the potential of vaping would be counterproductive to the goal of Tobacco Free Ireland 2025. VBI points to the example of Sweden in using vaping as a way of bringing down smoking rates – it has a smoking rate of 5.6%, lowest in the European Union, having adopted a multifaceted strategy of accepting alternatives to cigarettes such as vaping. To place further restrictions on flavours now could see Ireland follow the negative examples in Denmark and Estonia. Therefore, any future legislation should not contain further restrictions on flavours.
VBI national spokesperson Paul Malone has said “As a vape shop owner, I have seen first-hand the impact flavours have had on helping several of my customers to quit smoking. Vaping has helped over 200,000 people in Ireland quit smoking and research has shown flavours to play a significant role in achieving this. To place restrictions on them now would prevent so many others from taking the same route and put public health goals set out in Tobacco Free Ireland 2025 at risk. The Public Health Bill provides for meaningful regulation of the vaping sector and should not be followed up with restrictive measures such as this.”