VBI warns ban on flavoured vaping products could harm smoking cessation efforts

VBI warns ban on flavoured vaping products could harm smoking cessation efforts

Ireland’s vaping industry has warned the government against imposing any ban on flavoured vaping, saying it would run the risk of promoting smoking rates to rise again.

Vape Business Ireland (VBI) spokesperson Eoin O’Boyle said the industry backs a full ban on the sale of vaping products to minors, but the Government needs to recognise the importance of flavoured vaping products in encouraging adult smokers to kick the habit.

Eoin, who is CEO and founder of Drogheda-based OB Vape, said: “In October 2019, the General Scheme of the Public Health (Tobacco and Nicotine Inhaling Products) Bill 2019 was referred to the Oireachtas (Irish parliament) Health Committee to undergo pre-legislative scrutiny.

“The proposed legislation includes a ban on the sale of vaping and tobacco – nicotine inhaling products to persons under the age of 18. The legislation will also make it illegal for under 18s to sell vaping products, and will prohibit the sale of such products in vending machines and at other select locations.

“Vape Business Ireland has consistently supported these measures, and has been at the forefront of advocating for a full and total ban on the selling of vaping products to minors. In fact, we originally called on the Irish Government to implement this ban for more than seven years.”

He added that the Bill will introduce a new requirement that will compel vape retailers to acquire a licence for the sale of tobacco or nicotine inhaling products on each of the premises the business owns and the licence will have to be renewed every 12 months.

“As Ireland’s leading representative body for the vaping industry, we fully endorse a proportionate licensing system – one that will hold vendors responsible for maintaining standards of service provision – but the costs associated with it must not be excessive,” he said.

“As part of the discussions surrounding the pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill, there had been some concerns as to a possible ban on flavoured vaping products.

“Given that research has consistently demonstrated the importance of flavours in encouraging smokers to switch from tobacco cigarettes to vaping, we remain totally opposed to any such ban.”

Mr O’Boyle highlighted the example of Estonia which had previously implemented a ban on flavoured vaping products, but was forced to subsequently soften the regulations, as smoking rates began to increase as a result.

“Flavours have played, and indeed, continue to play, a crucial role in encouraging adult smokers to kick the habit, and it is imperative that the Irish Government recognises this, and does not seek to impose excessive restrictions in this area,” he said.

“The Irish Government has indicated a desire to achieve a Tobacco Free Ireland (5% smoking prevalence rate) by 2025. This goal is ambitious, as our current incidence rate of smoking is around 17%.

“Renewed awareness of personal health as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and numerous smoking cessation campaigns are helping to drive the shift towards vaping. As the range of vaping products grows, the industry is now in a much better position to respond to customers’ individual preferences, particularly around flavours. Collectively, these factors are helping to encourage adult smokers to consider vaping as an effective harm reduction tool.”