[Dublin, 21 September 2023] — Today, the Irish Health Minister Stephen Donnelly announced his intention to tighten regulation on vaping – including a ban of disposable vapes and a potential flavour ban. The World Vapers’ Alliance (WVA) urges policymakers to reconsider the far-reaching consequences this move would have on public health and harm reduction. Such bans contradict successful harm reduction approaches seen in other countries such as Sweden.
Michael Landl, the Director of the WVA, states, “Prohibition doesn’t work. It never has, and it never will. A ban on disposable vapes will not eliminate the demand but shift it from regulated markets to the black market, creating negative, unintended public health consequences.”
The ban on disposable vapes is counterproductive to harm reduction, says World Vapers’ Alliance. “Disposable vapes can act as a crucial stepping stone for smokers looking to quit,” comments Landl. “They offer an easy entry point, and many consumers eventually transition to open systems. Making that path from smoking to vaping as frictionless as possible is essential for public health. While cigarettes, known to be extremely harmful, remain readily available, banning a 95% less harmful alternative defies logic.”
Vaping flavours are widely used by adult vapers to move away from cigarettes, and research shows that their use can increase the odds of quitting by 230%. Restricting flavours will just drive many vapers to the black market or back to smoking. For example, Estonia banned flavours in 2020, but there is evidence that a majority of vapers kept using them, either by making their own liquids or by turning to the black market.
Michael Landl, Director of the World Vapers’ Alliance, emphasised flavours’ pivotal role in aiding smokers in their journey to quit. “Banning flavours would spell disaster for smokers who want to quit, current vapers, and public health. It’s essential to offer a variety of flavours for smokers to successfully transition. Banning flavours would steer countless Irish consumers back to smoking. This would be an unnecessary roadblock on the way to a smoke-free Ireland.”
Meanwhile, the United Kingdom has widely acknowledged vaping as a smoking cessation tool through its “Swap-to-Stop” program, committed to further reducing smoking rates and embracing vaping as a harm reduction tool.
Landl adds, “Countries with an open harm reduction approach, like Sweden, which recently reduced taxes on snus, and the UK have successfully reduced smoking rates with openness towards less harmful alternatives. Instead, Minister Donnelly is ignoring science and the experience of other countries. With these policies, he risks guiding Ireland further along the counterproductive path of prohibition, failing to effectively address the most harmful form of nicotine intake—smoking.”