Ireland hopes to use vaping to help reduce public health spending

In an effort to reduce the amount of government spending on smoking cessation, the Health Service Executive in Ireland plans to rewrite the guidelines associated with combating nicotine addiction.

After Dublin’s Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) released its report earlier this month, stating that e-cigarettes are a cost-effective way to quit smoking, industry experts believe that the vaping revolution could be the answer to government over-spending.

The planned guidelines, to be put forward by the HSE, will be vetted by the National Clinical Effectiveness Committee before being effected in the near future.

The original report revealed that thanks to the autonomous ‘opt-in’ nature of e-cigarettes and their extensive availability throughout the country, many of the costs associated with smoking cessation – usually footed by public health services – are passed on to the consumer on a voluntary basis.

England is currently enjoying its lowest ever recorded number of smokers thanks to the increased use of vaping devices. As a result, many public figures who were previously critical of the practice have been forced to backtrack on prior statements, aiding the belief that an increase in the use e-cigarettes could assist Ireland in the same way.

Reducing costs

While it was reported that the government currently spends €40 million a year on treatments and campaigns to reduce the number of people in Ireland who smoke, it is estimated that in 2016 €500 million was spent on health issues related to smoking cigarettes alone.

“As health services strain to meet increasing demand, it is cold comfort to think that the additional investment of €458.6 million by the Government to place the health services on a sustainable financial footing will barely cover smoking attributable costs,” said Dr Paul Kavanagh, adviser to the HSE Tobacco Free Ireland Programme and consultant in Public Health Medicine.

Dr Kavanagh also believes a reduction in the smoking population would also help to curb public spending on matters such as littering, productivity, and fires.

An innovative approach

With the release of the original report by HIQA, Ireland has become a point of interest for health services within other nations due to its pioneering inclusion of e-cigarettes as an effective cessation method.

There are currently many countries within which the practice of vaping is banned, citing the lack of studies regarding the long-term effects. However, newer reports such as the findings from University College London last week are starting to quell any such claims, and consequently, there are hopes that Ireland’s new approach to reducing the smoking population will be a model worth imitating.

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