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Teen vape ban doesn’t go far enough – Irish Heart Foundation

By Reporter - 30th May 2023

A complete ban on all e-cigarette flavours and disposable vapes is urgently required to protect a new generation from the dangers of smoking, the Irish Heart Foundation (IHF) has warned.

The charity was commenting after plans to ban the sale of vaping products to under-18s were approved by Cabinet today (May 30).

The new measures are expected to become law in July and will also curb the advertising of e-cigarettes around schools, and ban their sale from vending machines.

However, the IHF believes stronger legislation is still required.

“We need a full ban on all e-cigarettes flavours, except tobacco, and a complete prohibition of all forms of advertising, including online influencers promoting vaping products,” Mr Chris Macey, Director of Advocacy and Patient Support with the IHF, said.

He also called for a ban on the sale of disposable vapes, the introduction of plain packaging for vaping, and the increase of the legal age of all tobacco and e-cigarette products from 18 to 21.

“Irish research shows that teenagers who use e-cigarettes are up to five times more likely to start smoking compared to those who don’t,” he added.

Mr Macey also said the ban on selling vaping products to teenagers was the perfect opportunity to begin a national conversation on an eventual “endgame” for tobacco in Ireland.

“Ireland can reclaim its global leadership role in tobacco and nicotine policy by undertaking a dual strategy of implementing stronger regulatory policies on e-cigarettes to protect young people and commencing a broad consultation on New Zealand-style tobacco endgame measures,” he said.

“It is beyond time that we regain our ambition for bold, innovative actions.

“If we don’t, we risk losing an entirely new generation of young people to the addictive nature of nicotine and the extremely harmful nature of smoking.

“Despite all the strong rhetoric coming from the government in committing to action on vaping, we have become increasingly complacent over the past several years.

“For the first time in a generation, teenage smoking rates are on the rise, a rise almost certainly fuelled by the gateway effect of vaping.

“But Ireland is behind its European neighbours in our efforts to protect children from vaping – and we are one of the last countries in the European Union to introduce a ban on the sale of e-cigarettes to under-18s.”

Earlier today, the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly and Minister for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy Hildegarde Naughton received Government approval to publish the Public Health (Tobacco Products and Nicotine Inhaling Products) Bill and bring it forward for enactment. This Bill includes measures to tackle smoking and vaping among those aged under 18 years and all adults. These measures focus on preventing children from beginning to smoke or vape to protect their health.

The Bill will:

  • Prohibit the sale of nicotine inhaling products to anyone under 18 years
  • Prohibit the sale of tobacco products and nicotine inhaling products at events for children
  • Prohibit the self-service sale of tobacco products and nicotine inhaling products
  • Introduce a strict licensing system for the retail sale of tobacco products and nicotine inhaling products
  • Prohibit the advertising of nicotine inhaling products around schools and on public transport
  • Provide additional enforcement powers to the Environmental Health Service for measures in the Bill and for all previous Tobacco Control Acts

Minister Donnelly said: “Tobacco smoking continues to kill 4,500 people in Ireland every year and remains the biggest single cause of disability and death combined in our country. In the past, we have been recognised as global leaders in tobacco control, but our smoking rate continues to remain unacceptably high at 18 per cent. We have all seen the rise in popularity of vaping and especially among our young people. Our research tells us that vaping among adolescents increases the likelihood that they will later smoke. Our Bill is designed to intervene at each phase of the process through which these products are sold.”

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