COULD RESTAURANTS IN Ireland end up banning electronic cigarettes?
Currently, e-cigarettes are not illegal, but there is the possibility that individual restaurants might decide themselves if they want people smoking the devices on their premises.
It was announced earlier this year that the sale of e-cigarettes to people aged under 18 would be made illegal.
This was followed by a ban on the use of electronic cigarettes on the DART and Irish Rail trains.
The Department of Health said in January that it hopes to regulate e-cigarettes this year.
TheJournal.ie spoke to people on both sides of the debate to find out what the issues at stake are.
Adrian Cummins, Chief Executive Officer of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, said that the Department of Health “needs to move towards implementing, in our view, legislation to restrict e-cigarettes in restaurants”.
He said this was based on customer feedback.
“We are leaving it up to each restaurant to decide what they want to do,” said Cummins.
We seem to be in the Dark Ages in regard to this. We need to move forward and bring it into place, in our opinion.
Cummins said that customers have been asking restaurant staff “should this be happening in your restaurant?” and “is this legal in your restaurant”.
“You have the customer who is so used to having no smoking in the restaurant,” he pointed out. “People might be smoking e-cigarettes and [the customer] might have to take a second glance.”
He added that “if you were to use a standard operating procedure across all restaurants you could say ‘no you wouldn’t have [e-cigarettes] in [them]. There would be no conflict.”
Anything that tries to stop smoking in our opinion or reduces the number of smokers in the country is the right thing to do. I think there needs to be a policy developed around this brought in at national level and we’re willing to adopt it.
The e-cigarette retailer
Pic: Christophe Ena/AP/Press Association Images
Colm Bodkin of e-cigarette retailer Intellecigs said that the issue shows “yet more uncertainty about the product and the category in which it lies”.
Smokers that are trying to move away from cigarettes and using electronic cigarettes as a means to get off cigarettes, I think they’re being marginalised. I don’t think it’s fair. Most people are confusing the vapour with the carcinogenic second-hand smoke.
He claimed that the vapour from the cigarettes is “not harmful” and that “it’s almost as if they’re trying to criminalise the act of using e-cigarettes”.
Bodkin said there is a need to categorise the product and to regulate the product. “It could be beneficial for the e-cigarette industry and also for the consumer”.
Bodkin said he thinks there is “far too much scaremongering going on with regard to electronic cigarettes and their effect on the consumer”.
“I think there’s a desire for smokers to improve their health by not smoking regular cigarettes so it will just make it difficult for them,” he said of a potential ban in restaurants.