The Health Service Executive has banned the use of e-cigarettes in all health service facilities meaning the use of e-cigarettes will not be permitted in any HSE building or on any HSE Tobacco-Free Campus.

The HSE have said this move is because e-cigarettes resemble ordinary cigarettes, their use may promote or re-normalise smoking, disrupt the environment for non-smokers, make it harder for smokers to quit and for the HSE to support smoke-free policies.e cigarerer e

There is not enough evidence for or against the use of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid, and e-cigarettes are not yet recognised internationally or licensed as a smoking cessation aid.

Preliminary studies indicate that electronic cigarettes are probably less toxic than conventional cigarettes, but there is no evidence of their being useful as a possible strategy for harm reduction, nor is there good evidence for their effectiveness as a tool for smoking cessation.

There is no conclusive evidence for or against the safety of e-cigarette use, especially long-term, or the potential effects of passive exposure to emissions from electronic cigarettes.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is of the view that the safety of e-cigarettes has not been scientifically demonstrated and the potential risks they pose for the health of users remains undetermined

The HSE made a commitment that all its campuses will be tobacco-free by 2015.  The majority of public hospitals now operate smoke-free campuses, as do many primary care and administrative facilities.

Dr. Stephanie O’Keeffe, National Director, Health and Wellbeing, HSE said today ‘The Tobacco Free Campus Policy helps to change social norms around tobacco use and actively encourages and supports people to quit smoking. The decision to ban the use and sale of e-cigarettes in HSE facilities follows a detailed review of their safety and the impact of e-cigarettes on the smoke-free campus policy.’

‘The HSE can only recommend safe and effective products and strategies for quitting smoking, and there currently is no conclusive evidence that e-cigarettes are safe for long-term use, or are effective as a smoking cessation aid.  While we will keep this evidence under ongoing review, the e-cigarettes ban is being introduced as e-cigarettes pose a challenge to smoke-free campus enforcement and come with safety concerns for a healthcare environment.’

Joseph Johnston