Quitting smokers 'should not vape'
Anti-tobacco group says to use 'safe' nicotine gum and patches
Smokers considering giving up tobacco as a New Year's resolution are being advised not to switch to electronic cigarettes for their nicotine hit due to safety worries about the long-term use of the devices.
The anti-tobacco advocacy group ASH Ireland has advised quitters to instead use nicotine patches or gum.
Vaping has been endorsed by governments in the UK and other countries but ASH chairman Dr Pat Doorley said he was concerned about the risk it poses to long-term health.
"Some people say they do help them but we don't think the evidence is strong enough for us to support them and there are concerns about their long-term safety," he said.
"Only a limited body of work has been carried out in the area of e-cigarettes and more research would have to be carried out here before we could endorse their use."
The Health Information and Quality Authority is due to release a report on its study into smoking stimulation and smoking interventions.
While Dr Doorley said he would welcome any findings in the report, he advised that people looking to give up cigarettes should stick to "very useful" gums and patches.
He added: "Nicotine replacements will not give you the same hit but they can get you through cravings, especially for people who are highly addicted, for example those people who need a cigarette first thing in the morning.
"We would recommend those rather than e-cigarettes because they are proven to be effective and have proven to be safe. There is no such thing as a medicine or a pill with zero risk but they're very safe."
Despite a huge reduction ion in the number of smokers in recent decades, more than 5,900 people died from the effects of smoking in 2016.
Dr Doorley warned that the majority of people who kick the habit only do so after making numerous attempts and advised that people seek out support to quit.
"Having a plan is key and anyone who does have one will benefit," he said. "This should involve having a date they want to quit by but there is no one-size-fits-all approach."
People who manage to give up smoking will not just experience health benefits but will also make financial savings. Dr Doorley said: "A 20-a-day smoker will spend just over €4,000 on cigarettes annually. The overall cost of smoking in society is also significant, costing the State well over €1.6bn annually, with €506m spent on direct healthcare costs.
"Quitting is all positive - there are no downsides."