Public consultation on further regulation of vapes and tobacco

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A public consultation to help inform future regulation of tobacco and nicotine inhaling products, such as e-cigarettes or ‘vapes,’ has been launched by Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly and Minister of State for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drug Strategy, Hildegarde Naughton.

The Department of Health said vaping had become more popular in recent years, particularly among young people. Compared to cigarettes, vaping might be less harmful, but vaping was not harm free. Most vaping liquids contained nicotine, a highly addictive substance.

Legislation to ban vaping products to under 18s is currently before the Oireachtas. The Bill contains wide-ranging measures to tackle smoking and vaping among children and adults. These measures focus on preventing young people from beginning to smoke or vape to protect their health.

Ministers Donnelly and Naughton committed to further legislation in this area, and this consultation is the first step in developing this further legislation. 

This consultation looks at what additional measures could be introduced to decrease the appeal of nicotine inhaling products to children and young people and further denormalise smoking. The areas where views are being sought include:

  • The display of nicotine inhaling products in shops.
  • Nicotine inhaling product flavours.
  • The appearance of nicotine inhaling products.
  • Proxy sales of tobacco and nicotine inhaling products.
  • Smoking in outdoor dining areas.
  • Extending smoke free restrictions to vaping.
  • Increasing the age of sale for tobacco products.
  • Increasing the price of vapes.

Commenting on the launch of the consultation, Minister Donnelly said, “While I understand that e-cigarettes are used by many adults who are trying to quit smoking, I am deeply concerned by the rise in popularity of vaping among young people. These products clearly appeal to children and young people, and we do not yet know the long-term health impacts of their use. 

“We have already taken strong action and will have legislation in place by the end of this year, which will ban the sale of e-cigarettes to children and require a licence to sell them. 

“I would now like to invite the public to comment on other aspects such as packaging, display and flavours. We also know that effective actions on public health issues require a whole of Government approach, which is why we are asking for people’s views on increasing the price of vapes. This will help to inform my colleague, Minister for Finance, Michael McGrath, on how best to approach the taxation of these products to support our public health goals.

“This consultation will help us make effective decisions to protect our children from an addictive product, while reducing the extreme harm caused by smoking.”

Minister Naughton said, “I am very concerned that some young people are using vapes out of choice rather than as an aid to quit smoking. We know that young people who vape are more likely to go on to smoke, so it is important that they are not drawn to these products. As Minister with delegated responsibility for public health and wellbeing, I want to ensure that we leave no stone unturned when it comes to delivering the best start for every child in Ireland. 

“We can clearly see how some vaping products might be targeted at children or younger people by virtue of their exotic flavouring and colourful packaging. This public consultation will help us as Ministers to develop legislation around packaging and flavouring of nicotine inhaling products. I would encourage as many people as possible to engage with the public consultation over the next four weeks. I very much look forward to hearing the views of the members of the public and stakeholders in the weeks ahead.”

The public consultation is now open for submissions for a six-week period until Friday January 5. 2024. You can visit the Department’s website for further information on how to participate in this consultation.