Royal college of physicians: flavored e-cigarettes should be banned, e-cigarette advertising restricted.
March 2 – Ireland should consider raising the age limit for purchasing tobacco and nicotine inhalation products to 21, said Professor Des Cox, chair of the RCPI Tobacco Policy Group.
The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland said flavored e-cigarettes should be banned and that advertising restrictions on tobacco should also apply to e-cigarette products.
Mr. Cox discusses the Public Health (Tobacco and Nicotine Inhalation Products) Bill at the Oireachtas Health Committee.
“Teenagers are more likely to start using nicotine inhalation products through flavored products than other age groups. While adults may also enjoy flavors, the risks of starting nicotine inhalation products for teens and young adults outweigh the benefits of flavored products for ex-smokers,” Professor Cox said.
He said that Finland’s 2016 flavoring ban did not reduce the number of smokers using nicotine inhalation products as a smoking cessation tool.
He does not recommend e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool, adding that no one knows how harmful these products are and that nicotine addiction still exists.
“The study also showed that nicotine inhalation products are a pathway to smoking. Teenagers who had used nicotine inhalation products were three to five times more likely to start smoking compared to those who had never used them.”
However, Vape Business Ireland (VBI) says that 200,000 people in Ireland smoke e-cigarettes and that banning flavored products could return to smoking cigarettes.
VBI’s John Dunne said his organization supports a legal ban on e-cigarette products for people under 18. However, he does not support a total ban on flavors and advertising or simple packaging.
He says e-cigarettes are the best device to quit smoking and that Ireland should seek advice from the UK Department of Public Health. They have suggested e-cigarettes as a safer alternative to smoking.
Eoin O’Boyle, who runs OB Vape in Drogheda Co Meath, said e-cigarette businesses belonging to VBI require identification to buy products and do not sell to people under 18. He supports an age verification system for online purchases.
Taste is also essential in helping people quit smoking, he said.
“I find that when smokers initially turn to e-cigarettes, they often use tobacco flavors. However, as their taste buds recover and quit smoking altogether, they often don’t want to continue using tobacco flavors. They tend to look for alternatives such as fruit or menthol.”
“This demand for flavoring options also helps explain why flavors are so popular.”
TD David Cullinane questioned why British American Tobacco, known in Ireland as PJ Carroll, is a member of VBI.
Deputy Cullinane also said that John Player Blue Tobacco, which makes heated tobacco products and is owned by Philip Morris International Cigarette Company, is a former member of VBI, which Mr. Dunn accepted.
He also said that e-cigarette companies have a vested interest because, without nicotine addiction, they would not be profitable.
Many TDs and senators have expressed concern about young people who have never smoked starting to smoke e-cigarettes, but Mr. Dunne said that the 2021 Irish Health Survey showed that less than 1% of never smokers smoke e-cigarettes.
However, Professor Cox said the survey was not specifically designed to understand e-cigarettes, and other studies have shown that the number of young people trying e-cigarettes is increasing.