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Wednesday 27 September 2023 Dublin: 12°C
Shutterstock/Vladyslav Horoshevych
# vaping
Oireachtas Health Committee seek age restrictions on e-cigarettes and ban on flavourings
The committee asked the Minister for Health to look at other countries where ages for vaping and smoking are 21.

A BAN ON flavoured e-cigarettes, e-cigarette ads on social media and bright packaging are just some of the restrictions recommended in a report on pre-legislative scrutiny on a  public health bill published on the weekend.

The Oireachtas joint committee on health compiled suggestions for the Public Health (Tobacco and Nicotine Inhaling Products) Bill 2019 after meeting with health specialists and representatives of the vaping industry.

A key recommendation was that the bill should regulate the flavouring of e-cigarettes and that all flavours except for tobacco, should be strictly prohibited so as not to entice minors.

Speaking to the committee, the Irish Heart Foundation called e-cigarette flavours marketing tools “that are almost exclusively directed at young people because if young people are not addicted, there is no business model.”

The committee has stated that the Minister for Health should review international studies to consider increasing the age for buying tobacco and nicotine-inhaling products  to 21.

Also giving evidence to the committee, the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland (RCPI) stated that teenagers are more likely to use flavoured nicotine products than other age groups.

However, the RCPI also told the committee that a recent study examining the effects of a similar ban in Finland did not report a significant change in e-cigarette use post introduction.

Many of the proposals made by the committee indicate a desire to treat e-cigarettes more like traditional cigarettes, such as a move to introduce plain packaging rather than what the Irish Cancer Society has called “cartoon-type packaging”.

According to a 2019 European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD) vaping among young people is now more common than smoking and more young people aged 12-17 years have tried vaping (22%) compared to adults (14%). 

The survey also found that in 15 and 16 year olds, almost four in 10 students (39%) had tried e-cigarettes and almost one in 5 (18%) were current users.

However, the sale of e-cigarettes to under-18s is still not against the law despite the fact that public health officials as well as representatives of the vaping industry have been advocating for it for years.

In response to the report’s publication Vape Business Ireland stated that the complexity of the suggestions would only delay the bill and the under-18s ban.

It also claimed that the committee referred to “outdated evidence, as well as research which falls short of international standards”.

Another measure in the report would ban the sale of e-cigarettes from temporary units such as kiosks, stalls or marquees at festivals and introduce a license for approved sellers.

The report also urges that the bill  contain measures to ban all forms of e-cigarette advertising on billboards, online on all social media platforms, and influencer marketing methods.

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