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As vaping-linked injuries and deaths rise in the US, some Irish colleges are moving towards an all-out ban

18 deaths and 1080 injuries in the US have been linked to vaping.

Vape pen.
Vape pen.
Image: Shutterstock/Lifestyle discover

TRINITY COLLEGE DUBLIN’s tobacco policy group is assessing the benefits and risks of vaping and allowing it on campus in light of recent studies on the side effects of the smoking alternative. 

In the US, 18 deaths and 1,080 injuries – a jump of 275 since last week – have now been positively linked to vaping, according to that country’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Vaping indoors is banned in Trinity, but it is currently still permitted outdoors, according to director of the TCD College Health Service Dr David McGrath. The institution has recently introduced a tobacco-free initiative on campus. 

“However, in light of the recent scientific studies on the side-effects of vaping, the Tobacco Free Trinity Committee will, as part of its ongoing remit, continue to assess the benefits of – and risks associated with – vaping,” said McGrath. 

In recent weeks, University of Limerick President Des Fitzgerald said a ban on vaping and smoking in any institution “in receipt of Exchequer funds” should be implemented. UL has had a ban on smoking and vaping on campus since 2018. 

This ban, he argued, should be brought into all education institutions. However, this ban already exists in some form on some university campuses.

Dublin City University (DCU) recently introduced smoke-free zones that include vaping on its three Northside campuses.  

“Right now, we’re in a six-week consultation phase to identify where exactly we’ll be erecting smoke/ vape shelters with cigarette bins on all our campuses,” a spokesperson for DCU said. 

Similarly, University College Dublin implemented a smoke-free campus policy between 2015 and 2017 that includes vaping and e-cigarettes.

Ireland’s newest university Technological University Dublin (TUD) has banned the use of vapes inside college buildings.

However, a spokesperson for the university said it is “not always possible” to strictly enforce the smoke-free campus policy in its Grangegorman campus as the grounds are open to the public. 

National University of Ireland, Galway has banned e-cigarettes and vapes in buildings, but a spokesperson for the university did not confirm whether this ban extends to their smoke-free zones on campus which were introduced in 2016. 

Maynooth University has a policy against vaping in university buildings and a smoke-free campus is set to be considered by a campus committee that recommends strategy and policy. 

A spokesperson for University College Cork has said there are no current plans to ban vaping on campus but the college “encourages a reduction in smoking on campus” by providing resources to anyone seeking to quit. 

Further bans

Fine Gael Senator and former Health Minister James Reilly called for Ireland to consider banning flavoured vapes to “prevent children and young people from taking up the habit” in a statement last week.  

Minister for Health Simon Harris has said he will bring legislation to Cabinet to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to people under 18 and also prevent under 18s from selling tobacco products and nicotine inhaling products.

Harris also hit out at Oireachtas members who have asked him to meet with vaping companies. 

“I’ll never meet them, I’ll never meet them, so people can stop asking me to meet them,” he said at the Oireachtas Health Committee earlier this week. 

A new study by the Mayo Clinic published this week found that the lungs of some patients with vape-related illnesses had been exposed to noxious fumes. 

Last month, US President Donald Trump announced that his administration will ban flavored e-cigarettes in the coming months. 

India and the US state of Massachusetts have already issued an outright ban on all e-cigarette products. 

- With reporting from © AFP 2019   

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