Government approval to introduce additional restrictions on the sale and advertising of nicotine inhaling products such as e-cigarettes is a welcome boost for public Health, according to Fine Gael TD Colm Burke.
Fine Gael Health Spokesperson Colm Burke, said, “While much is still unknown about the dangers of vaping, research indicates links to chronic lung disease and asthma. E-cigarettes are also highly addictive, with nicotine being the primary agent in many products.
“Vaping is gaining popularity across the country, with packaging and flavours appealing to young people in particular.
“For the first time in 25 years, after falling from 41% to 13%, the smoking rate amongst our 15-16 year olds is now increasing. 39% of this age group have used e-cigarettes, while over 15% are regular users.
The Minister has confirmed that under the new proposals, the sale of e-cigarettes (and related nicotine inhaling products) will be prohibited from self-service vending machines, from temporary or mobile premises and at places or events for children. In addition, advertisements for e-cigarettes will be prohibited on public transport, in cinemas and near schools.
The proposals will be incorporated into the Public Health (Tobacco and Nicotine Inhaling Products) Bill which is currently being drafted. Other measures in the Bill include:
- prohibiting the sale of tobacco products and nicotine inhaling products by persons under 18 years of age
- prohibiting the sale of tobacco products from self-service vending machines, from temporary or mobile units and at events or locations for children
- introducing minimum suspension periods for retailers convicted of offences
- introducing fixed penalty notices for offences
A study released from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 2.55 million U.S. middle and high school students reported current (past 30-day) e-cigarette use in 2022.
Additionally, two studies by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) show that long-term use of electronic cigarettes, or vaping products, can significantly impair the function of the body’s blood vessels, increasing the risk for cardiovascular disease. Additionally, the use of both e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes may cause an even greater risk than the use of either of these products alone.
Deputy Burke continued “Vaping products are often marketed as a way for smokers to quit tobacco. Across shops and websites, they are sold as a ‘cleaner alternative’ to smoking, with the switch from cigarettes to vapes promoted as a ‘healthy decision’.
“However, if a product is to be promoted for a medical purpose, such as stopping smoking, it should be authorised by the Health Products and Regulatory Authority (HPRA). There are currently no e-cigarettes on the market in Ireland authorised by the HPRA.
“Since the introduction of the smoking ban in 2004, Ireland has been a world leader in the fight against the damage caused by tobacco products. However, the same cannot be said for our current approach to e-cigarettes, with Ireland falling well behind the mark compared to our EU counterparts.
“I have previously called for a ban on advertising for e-cigarettes, including on billboards and on public transport. I am glad that the Government is giving this serious consideration and will proceed to introduce measures to protect public health, and crucially the wellbeing of our young people” concluded Deputy Burke.