Dear Ireland Department of Health, Health Promotion Unit, Tobacco Control,
I am writing in relation to the public hearing held to obtain comments from the public in order to share inputs on future regulation and development of innovative products and treatments for tobacco dependence.
As Director of the Centre for Tobacco Prevention and Dependence Treatment, at the University of Catania (Italy), and as Scientific Director of LlAF (Italian No Smoking Association), I have dedicated many years of my clinical and research activity to fight against tobacco smoking.
Current evidence show that available smoking-cessation medications do not guarantee high leveI of efficacy in real-life settings and more effective approaches are needed to contrast tobacco smoking.
A few years ago, I got involved in the pioneeristic early trials on electronic cigarettes. At that time, a balanced analysis of the risks and benefits of these products was not available and we thought that a rigorous research on e-Cigarettes was urgently needed to guide the decisions of the regulators, healthcare providers and consumers. It was surprising to see that the findings of this early work turned out to be extremely positive; in smokers not willing to quit the use of electronic cigarettes decreased cigarette’s consumption and in some it elicited enduring tobacco abstinence to a level never
achieved by any other device. Moreover, no significant side effects were reported and substantial health gains could be achieved by e-cigarette users. More recently, a number of studies have shown that the risks of second hand vapor from
e-cigarette use is very small in comparison to those associated with second hand tobacco smoke. While secondhand smoke must be eliminated in workplaces and public places, the current data provide no justification for eliminating electronic cigarette use in these places.
The current evidence is thin and more research is needed, but it is likely that these products will prove useful in the management of tobacco dependence. Therefore the regulatory bodies should carefully consider the public health potential of the e-cigarettes.
The Ireland Department of Health, Health Promotion Unit, Tobacco Control, is strategically positioned to provide smokers with truthful health information and legal access to far less hazardous alternative, including e-cigarettes.
I’m at your disposal as a consultant in order to share the scientific information that we have reached with the clinical studies.
Prof. Riccardo Polosa