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Dublin: 3 °C Tuesday 12 November, 2019
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Harris hits out at politicians trying to get him to meet vaping company reps

The minister said tobacco companies are ‘despicable’ for targeting children with e-cigarettes.

Health Minister Simon Harris says children are being targeted with colourful and flavoured vaping products.
Health Minister Simon Harris says children are being targeted with colourful and flavoured vaping products.
Image: Oireachtas TV

HEALTH MINISTER SIMON Harris has rounded on politicians who have invited vaping company representatives into Leinster House. 

Speaking at the Oireachtas Health Committee, the minister also hit out against “large to tobacco companies moving into this space”, calling it out as “unethical” and “despicable”. 

“I think it is appalling the amount of members of the Oireachtas that are bringing around vaping companies in here and asking me to meet them,” he said, adding: 

“I’ll never meet them, I’ll never meet them, so people can stop asking me to meet them.”

He accused large tobacco industry of targeting children with the sale of e-cigarettes. 

The minister said they are “mooching” into this area, and it is very clear they are doing so because they understand “the war against tobacco” is underway, and they can see Ireland is heading towards a “tobacco-free” country. 

He told the committee that he will bring legislation to Cabinet next month that will ban of e-cigarettes to people under the age of 18 and prohibit the sale of tobacco products and nicotine inhaling products by anyone under the age of 18.

The proposed new laws will also ban the sale of tobacco products from self-service vending machines and at locations intended for children and events organised for children.

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The minister said the government moved to limited the advertising of tobacco products, however, having recently been a petrol station, Harris said all that blocked off tobacco advertising has been replaced with adverts for vaping products. 

“This is a new arm to the tobacco industry, it is a threat to our children’s health and we need to call it out,” he said.

Beyond protecting children, in terms of banning the sale of vaping products to those under 18, the minister said he has asked the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) to carry out a review of the health implications for vaping products and e-cigarettes. 

The report is due back in March, with the minister stating he will take action based on its results. He said there might be evidence that for those that are already smoking regular cigarettes that it may help them. 

However, Harris said is very different to these companies targeting teenagers aged 14, 15 and 16 with these “nice, colourful things” that have tempting flavours. 

The minister said he is taking this issue “very, very seriously”. 

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