A ban on the sale of disposable vapes is needed on both health and environmental grounds, a Fine Gael TD has said.
Deputy Colm Burke, Fine Gael spokesperson for Health, said: “While vaping was initially introduced as a means to wean smokers off cigarettes, the alarming surge in the use of disposable vapes by under 18’s is hugely concerning and needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
“There has been significant progress made in relation to the issue of vaping in Ireland. The sale of nicotine inhaling products such as e-cigarettes (vapes) to persons under 18 is now prohibited. It has also introduced a penalty of up to €4,000 and up to a six-month term of imprisonment for breaches of the law.
“Yet more needs to be done, and the issue at hand comprises several key elements. Firstly, instead of acting as a means of assisting adults with nicotine addiction, they are acting as a pathway to tobacco use for children.
“Secondly, although sale to anyone under 18 is now illegal, the products clearly appear to be marketed to children, with bright packaging and synthetic flavours such as “Strawberry Watermelon” and “Cotton Candy.”
“Thirdly, and most alarmingly, while we know how the nicotine in a generic vape behaves in the body, we have no understanding of the chemical makeup of the exotic flavours used by vapes, and their long-term effect on users and bystanders. The sheer number of such products –over 16,000 different kinds of disposable vapes– is a problem in itself.
“Many of these vapes are made by anonymous overseas manufacturers making it almost impossible to control quality and safety. We would never tolerate this lack of regulation with any other consumer product, so why should we do so for vapes.
“The Royal College of Physicians Ireland’s Faculty of Paediatrics have also highlighted in a recent position paper that other cessation aids have a proven track record of being more effective than vaping, making it clear that vapes offer no significant advantage to public health and well-being.
“The environmental implication of disposal vapes must also be considered. The Institute of Public Health in Ireland have proposed a ban on the sale and disposal of such vapes considering the significant environmental damage associated with them. Estimates suggest that more than 10 million disposable vapes may be used here every year.
“With an overwhelming 90% public support, as demonstrated by a recent poll in The Journal,  and in alignment with the growing international consensus reflected in bans implemented by 34 countries as of July 2023, it is evident that we must take decisive action.
“The bottom line is that the vapes were originally introduced to assist smokers to cut down or cease their tobacco use. We clearly do not require 16,000 different disposable vape products to do that. In fact, we do not need disposable vapes at all. Twenty years ago, Ireland was the first country to introduce a smoking ban in the workplace. We should be front and centre of the move to ban disposable vapes for the sake of society and in particular its youngest citizens.” Deputy Burke concluded.