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Taoiseach says workplace vaping ban will be considered if doctors advise it

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin questioned Varadkar on vaping in the Dail today.

A woman using an e-cigarette.
A woman using an e-cigarette.
Image: Tony Dejak/PA Images

FIANNA FÁIL LEADER Micheál Martin has called on the government to consider extending the workplace smoking ban to cover vaping products.

During Leaders Questions in the Dáil this morning, Martin said there is a “vaping epidemic” that is being promoted by the tobacco industry.

Martin added that there has been a “an unacceptable level of youth usage” of vaping products and that “teen usage has risen sharply since 2017″.

His comments come after US health officials last week linked the practice of vaping 1,000 illnesses and 19 deaths across 48 states.

Martin said these were “alarming statistics” and that there has been “a flurry of legislative activity” to ban vaping products.

The Fianna Fáil leader said that the tobacco industry was seeking to get young people “addicted to nicotine once again” and he mentioned advertising for coloured and flavoured vaping products in supermarkets and on buses.

“We had been really succeeding in terms of getting young people away from the whole idea of nicotine addiction. The whole strategy here is to get young people addicted to nicotine via these vaping devices,” he said. 

In response, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he agreed that the involvement of the tobacco industry in making vaping products was “a cause for concern”, adding that young people are indeed being targeted with advertising. 

“Vaping is relatively new but it is not all that new,” the Taoiseach said adding that, “we need to look at the science and listen to the doctors and health professionals”.

“There are lots of things that you can do that are bad for you which we don’t necessarily ban the sale of or the advertising for,” Varadkar said.

We look at the extent to which they damage health and take that into account.

On the issue of extending the workplace ban to vaping products, Varadkar said the original ban was introduced to protect people from the dangers of inhaling second-hand smoke.

He said the government would definitely look at extending the ban should it be recommended based on the evidence of doctors.

At present there has been no reports in Europe similar to the incidents in the United States with inquiries into whether those injured or worse had been using black market products.

Last week, Health Minister Simon Harris said that he will bring legislation to Cabinet next month that will ban of e-cigarettes to people under the age of 18.

He also criticised lobbying by vaping company representatives in Leinster House.

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Rónán Duffy

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