The HSE has said the ban on vaping devices and electronic cigarettes in Irish hospitals will continue – despite fresh calls for them to be officially licensed as medical aids for quitting smoking.
It comes as Public Health England (PHE) urged hospitals in Britain to begin selling e-cigarettes and to provide vaping lounges for patients.
The health body also called on the British Government to make the devices available on prescription as quitting aids through the National Health Service (NHS).
A new independent review conducted by the PHE into the latest evidence estimates the overall risk of harm from e-cigarettes at less than 5% of that from smoking tobacco.
It calculates the risk of cancer to be less than 1%
The review also suggests that at least 20,000 people are quitting smoking in England every year with the help of e cigarettes.
— PublicHealthEngland (@PHE_uk) February 6, 2018
Despite the findings, HSE public health adviser Dr Paul Kavanagh told Newstalk that the Government’s stance on vaping, as outlined in the Tobacco Free Ireland action plan, is that there is a “lack of research in relation to the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes and a lack of sufficient evidence that they aid with smoking cessation."
He said the executive would reconsider the ban on HSE campuses and facilities if Government policy on the “role of e-cigarettes and vaping in tobacco control” changes.
He said a HIQA assessment of the devices was that “early evidence is promising” but not enough evidence exists for the HSE to recommend them.
He noted that any e-cigarette licensed by the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) can be prescribed by Irish doctors.
However, as things stand, none of the devices have yet been licensed.