Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Business, Enterprise and Innovation, and candidate for the European Parliament Billy Kelleher TD has said that protecting public health requires a bold new approach on the regulation and marketing of electronic cigarettes and vaping.

His call came following the 15th anniversary of Fianna Fáil banning the use of combustible cigarettes in the workplace.

Deputy Kelleher commented, “Over the course of the last few years, the availability and use of e-cigs has exploded across our country. From the smallest village to every corner of our cities, citizens are bombarded with marketing and special offers on devices encouraging them to consume highly addictive nicotine.

“While Europe has provided some guidance on the immediate dangers of these devices and fluids and has put in place rules around standards and warnings, it is not enough. As a sector, vaping has successfully discouraged more aggressive regulation on the basis that their products are primarily a means for smokers to quit smoking. But it is increasingly clear that this is not a sustainable argument and is in fact deeply disingenuous.

“The proliferation of ever more exotic flavours is clear evidence of an effort to draw in new, and younger consumers of nicotine. And we have known for decades that tobacco companies explicitly understood that nicotine was their primary product and manipulated the ingredients of cigarettes to increase the addictiveness of nicotine.

“Unfortunately, spend any time in a public space in our country and you will see the success of this strategy – ever more young people using these products.

“While we have yet to properly understand the long term health effects of these products, we can surely agree that driving increasing numbers of young people into nicotine addiction is a bad thing. For that reason, I believe that we must now move, at a national and European level to a much more aggressive approach.

“In the first instance, these products should be subject to the same restrictions as traditional non-pharmacy nicotine delivery products. This should include in-store restrictions and bans on advertising. In addition, we should move to a ban on flavoured products, as we are starting to see elsewhere around the world as regulators work to protect young people.

“As a country and as a Party we have demonstrated our ability to face down vested interests and lead within Europe on important issues of public health. It is my strong view that protecting young people from nicotine addiction is an important next step in the battle for improved public health.”