Smoke without fire

I read an item yesterday which will cheer many but leaves me with more questions than answers.

HIQA to achieve ‘world first’ on e-cigarettes.

[HIQA incidentally is Irelands "Health Information and Quality Authority".]

My first reaction is that at last someone is actually using that grey matter between their ears.  For the last ten and more years the policy regarding any nicotine related topic is restrictions and bans [unless of course it’s from Big Pharma].  To see an announcement that is actually positive in tone and doesn't include the words "ban" or "restrict" is not just refreshing – it's quite remarkable.

The article doesn't really say that much though.  It endorses the RCP report which is going to infuriate a lot of people, particularly in America and Australia, probably to the point that international Smoker Haters are going to claim that HIQA is funded by Big Tobacco or some such ludicrous notion.  It will be interesting to see the reaction.

The article states that "it is a big budget area".  What do they mean by that?  Does it mean that they have a big budget to spend or that introducing electrofags will cost a lot?  They mention E-Voke, so I had a peek to see what an E-Voke costs – a mere $399, so if everyone is to get one of those courtesy of our health service, then yes, it will be a big budget area to put it very mildly. 

[Addendum: Alan Beard [thanks, Alan!]has since pointed out that there's another e-Voke yoke on the market which retails at around $8 which seems a little more affordable?  Can't find a website for 'em though…]

In an ideal world Ireland would ignore the EU's Tobacco Directive and let the e-cigarette market have free reign.  An open market would bring down prices and increase innovation.  E-cigarettes would continue to be sold in just about any newsagent or supermarket as they are now.  The Anti-Smokers would advise people on which devices might suit them and send them off to buy their own.  That wouldn't cost the tax payer a red cent and everybody would be happy.

I can't see that happening though.  Probably e-cigarettes will be put on the list of alternatives but will be placed at the very bottom, well below the patches and inhalers.  Big Pharma doesn't like electrofags and we have to keep them happy? 

So is this a progressive step or just another claim to be a "world first"?

It wll be interesting to see how it pans out.

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