The HSE’s national lead on the Tobacco Free Programme has said the consumption of e-cigarettes among young people represents a “worrying trend”, as a TD called for strict advertising and sales restrictions on such products.
The HSE’s Martina Blake said that the use of e-cigarettes represents a “real risk” and a “real worry” for younger age groups, and heightens the chances they may become tobacco smokers in later life.
According to recent Healthy Ireland surveys, those aged under 25 are more likely to have used e-cigarettes with 14% having tried them at some point and 4% who currently use them.
The most recent European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Drugs in 2019 found that 37% of 15-16-year-olds in Ireland had tried e-cigarettes at one point. And 15% had used them in the past 30 days.
Ms Blake said that strong legislation exists to ban advertising at the point of sale for tobacco, but this is not in place for e-cigarettes.
“We have seen a rise in e-cigarette consumption, particularly among teenagers,” she said.
Meanwhile, Fine Gael’s Colm Burke has said that limits should be introduced on the advertising of e-cigarettes.
“While the Government has taken steps to address the potential dangers of vaping and e-cigarettes with the introduction of new legislation, which includes banning the purchasing of e-cigarettes by under-18s, more must be done,” Mr Burke said.
Mr Burke said that a ban on advertising on billboards and on public transport, as well as the introduction of plain packaging is “urgently needed” to protect public health.
In a statement, the Department of Health said that a bill that would provide for further regulation of electronic cigarettes is currently with the Office of the Attorney General for drafting and to undergo pre-legislative scrutiny.