HSE bans e-cigarettes from smoke-free campuses

Thursday 24th April 2014

The Health Service Executive today announced that it is to ban the use of e-cigarettes in all health service facilities from 1st May. From this date, the use of e-cigarettes will not be permitted in any HSE building or on any HSE Tobacco-Free Campus.

As the organisation responsible for health promotion and improvement, health protection and the prevention of illnesses and disease, the HSE has 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 be keeping this emerging evidence under review, the e-cigarettes ban is being introduced now because e-cigarettes pose a challenge to smoke-free campus enforcement and come with safety concerns for a healthcare environment.'

'Smoking is the single leading cause of illness in our nation, responsible for a range of respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases and cancers, and for over 5,200 deaths every year. The Health Services are responsible for health promotion and caring for illnesses and disease. Ensuring that health service buildings and grounds are smoke-free is an integral part of our approach to reducing tobacco use and harm in Ireland.'

Dr. O'Keeffe concluded: 'Quitting smoking is the best thing someone can do for their health and we will continue to treat tobacco use and addiction as a healthcare issue. The health services provide and promote a range of safe and evidence-based services, supports and aids that can help people to quit - in many cases doubling their chances of success. We encourage people to try to quit, to keep trying, and to use a safe and proven support to help them stay quit.'

All HSE service managers nationwide have been informed of this change and have been advised to implement the policy from May 1st 2014. Supporting materials on implementing a tobacco-free campus will be available at www.hse.ie/tobaccofreecampus

Remember - You can QUIT and we can help:

  • Freephone the QUITline on 1800 201 203
  • Visit www.quit.ie and sign up to a quitplan
  • Join www.facebook.com/HSEquit
  • Contact your local HSE smoking cessation counsellor
  • Talk to your GP, pharmacist or dentist for support

Further Information on the ban on e-cigarettes

  • The Tobacco Free Campus Policy, which is already in place in many hospitals and healthcare facilities, is increasingly facing difficulties arising from the use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) by staff and service users
  • 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
  • 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. The HSE only recommends safe, proven products and strategies for quitting smoking. 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. 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
  • Scientific testing indicates that the products vary widely in the amount of nicotine and other chemicals they deliver and it is difficult for consumers to know what is delivered by the product they are buying. E-cigarettes remain unregulated as either a medicine or food product.
  • Oxygen suppliers/manufacturers have informed hospitals that e-cigarettes should not be used near oxygen supplies, due to potential fire risk, and health services are reporting concerns due to harms caused to children as a result of accidental exposure to the liquid in e-cigarettes.