The Faculty of Paediatrics at the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland has strongly supported the introduction of legislation to ban disposable vapes to protect the health and wellbeing of children and young people, who are using them in alarming numbers.
In a position paper, released in October, the Faculty of Paediatrics, said that disposable vapes were the most frequently used vaping devices among young people, and the use of vapes by children and young people posed serious health risks to them. The environmental damage of disposable vapes was also well documented.
Professor Des Cox, a representative of the Faculty of Paediatrics, and Consultant in Paediatric Respiratory Medicine, said that vaping was harmful and had significant long-term health risks for children and young people, whose brains and bodies were still developing.
“Exposure of children and adolescents to nicotine can lead to long-term negative impacts on brain development, as well as addiction. Aerosols in most vapes contain toxic substances, associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and lung disorders,” Prof Cox said. “Nicotine, which is highly addictive, is the major psychoactive component of vaping solution.
“The potential negative health impacts of vapes include chest symptoms such as cough, wheezing, asthma exacerbations, but there is also a significant risk of dependence and neurotoxic effects on the not fully matured brain. Doctors need to be equipped to speak to their patients about these ill effects and provide clear guidance.”
Prof Louise Kyne, Dean of the Faculty of Paediatrics and co-author of the position paper, said doctors and paediatricians needed to take an active role in discouraging vaping among young people.
The College has welcomed comments by the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, that, it said, signalled his intention to introduce legislation to ban vapes. Prof Cox has also met with Minister Ossian Smyth to support his efforts to ban vapes on environmental grounds.
The Faculty said that research showed that dual use of vapes and conventional cigarettes was the most common behaviour among adolescents in Ireland. There was also a gateway effect. A review by the Health Research Board in Ireland found that young people who had ever used a vape were three to five times more likely to start smoking, compared to those who never used vapes.
“International research strongly suggests those vaping today will take up smoking at some point in the future. So, effectively what we are doing is creating the next generation of smokers,” Prof Cox says.
“This poses significant lifetime health risks for our children and young people.”
The paper also calls for a national HSE-led information campaign which appeals to children and young people.