Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire TD and member of the Oireachtas Health Committee, Mary Mitchell O’Connor has today (Wednesday) warned that e-cigarettes are posing a very real threat to the health of our children. Deputy Mitchell O’Connor raised the issue in the Dáil during a topical issue debate on the matter yesterday evening.
“I am very concerned at the rise in the number of children who have suffered from nicotine poisoning over the past two years. The liquid nicotine contained in e-cigarettes can cause acute illness and vomiting in young children, and experts are warning that fatalities could occur if the problem isn’t addressed.
“I have spoken to Dr Edel Duggan, Clinical Director of the National Poisons Information Centre, who is warning of the dangers posed by the lack of regulation. Severe nicotine poisoning can lead to coma, convulsions, heart attacks and respiratory arrest. According to Dr Duggan, a measurement of 40 milligrams per millilitre has the potential to be fatal. Some e-cigarettes have 36 milligrams per millilitre. That is too close for comfort.
“The amount of nicotine in e-cigarettes needs to be regulated and more needs to be done to keep them out of the reach of children. I am concerned that the industry is directly targeting children by promoting flavours such as ‘Cherry Crush’ and ‘Chocolate Treat’.
“The rise in popularity of e-cigarettes is staggering; sales in Ireland have increased by 500% in the past year. Globally the industry was worth an estimated $3 billion last year.
“Regulation is a tricky issue. E-cigarettes are not presented as medical products, so do not fall under the medical products legislation and as they do not contain tobacco, they don’t come under tobacco legislation. The new Tobacco Products Directive being developed at European level is expected to address this issue, and should lead to a process of regulation. It will make health warnings and information leaflets obligatory and impose strict rules on advertising and monitoring of market developments.
“Ireland led the way internationally in 2004 when we introduced smoke-free zones in public places and workplaces, including restaurants and pubs. It is time for us to lead the way again by taking pro-active measures to regulate e-cigarettes. For instance, introducing a minimum age for buying e-cigarettes
“Harvard Professor Gregory Connolly recently warned that if unregulated, e-cigarettes could be the panacea for the tobacco industry’s woes by discouraging quitting and encouraging children to take up smoking. However, he said, if regulated, e-cigarettes could offer a miracle for getting people to quit smoking. We should take heed of his comments and show leadership within the EU by passing a law here regulating e-cigarettes as medical devices.”