Ireland’s Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) Says E-Cigarettes Are a Cost-Effective Treatment to Quit Smoking
Ireland’s health watchdog, HIQA, has advised that a rise of the number of people using e-cigarettes to aid in quitting smoking would increase the number that successfully quit and would be cost-effective. HIQA recently published its 700 page report titled “Health technology assessment (HTA) of smoking cessation interventions”. Ireland is the only country in the EU to include e-cigarettes in a state assessment of how best to give up smoking.
About €40 million (about $42,800,000) is spent by Ireland every year on helping people to quit smoking, using a range of methods. Increasing the uptake of varenicline (nicotine addiction medication), alongside nicotine gum, patches, inhalers or sprays would be “good value for money,” but could add almost €8 million to state healthcare costs.
About one-third of Irish smokers use e-cigarettes as an aid for quitting smoking. A rise in the use of e-cigarettes would cut the healthcare bill by €2.6 million (about $2,782,000) every year, it found.
The research by HIQA also found that vaping was twice as effective as not using any nicotine replacement therapy, but noted that this conclusion was based on two small-scale trials. HIQA does acknowledge that the long-term effects from the use of e-cigarettes have yet to be established.
Dr Mairin Ryan, HIQA’s director of health technology assessment, stressed the “high level of uncertainty” that remains around both the clinical and cost-effectiveness of e-cigarettes. And stated “HIQA’s analysis shows that increased uptake of e-cigarettes as an aid to quitting would increase the number of people who successfully quit compared with the existing situation in Ireland and would be cost-effective, provided that the currently available evidence on their effectiveness is confirmed by further studies.”
HIQA has release its findings for public consultation, before it agrees on a final report, which will be put to Ireland’s Health Minister. Details on how to take part in the consultation can be found here.
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