Vape Business Ireland has welcomed calls made by the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland for the fast-tracking of legislation banning the sale of e-cigarettes to children and for funding to be made available for research into the products.
Chair of the trade association, Keith Flynn, said members had signed a code of conduct agreeing to only sell vaping products to people over the age of 18. The code, published last month, also states that members should always ask for identification if there is any doubt about a person's age.
Mr Flynn hoped that the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland would "reach out" to their British counterparts who have already conducted a huge amount of research on e-cigarettes. The Royal College of Physicians in London concluded in a report published in April 2016 that e-cigarettes are likely to be beneficial to public health.
The report – Nicotine without smoke: tobacco harm reduction, concludes:
“I do not believe that vaping is the only answer to quitting but it should be part of a suite of products advised by the HSE for smokers who find it hard to quit,” said Mr Flynn.
He noted that the HSE does not recommend e-cigarettes to help people quit smoking and that the health authority states on its website that “it is better” to use nicotine replacement therapy.
In its pre-budget submission, the RCPI's policy group states that research on e-cigarettes is critical because a strong research base is needed to inform the discussion around these products.
The group's chair, Dr Des Cox, said over the past few years e-cigarettes had become increasingly popular among young people in many countries. “Urgent action needs to be taken in order to prevent this phenomenon transposing to Ireland,” he said.
Although e-cigarettes were considered to be less harmful than tobacco smoking, exposing young people to nicotine through the use of electronic cigarettes was a significant health concern.
Nicotine was highly addictive and was particularly harmful to the developing brain and other organs of the body.
“We are calling for research funding to examine the role of e-cigarettes in tobacco cessation and to examine their health effects, particularly in young people,” said Dr Cox.
Mr Flynn said members of the trade alliance accepted that vaping products must be sold responsibly - that retail staff should be fully age aware trained and anyone under the age of 18 should be prevented from buying vaping products online.