According to Special Eurobarometer 429, "Attitudes of Europeans towards tobacco and electronic cigarettes" published in May 2015, 3% of all Irish respondents (base 1,003) stated that they currently use e-cigarettes or similar electronic devices (e-shisha, e-pipes), 3% used them in the past, but no longer use them, 6% tried them in the past but no longer use them and 88% never used them. More comprehensive data on e-cigarette use in Ireland will be available shortly from the Healthy Ireland Survey.
E-cigarettes and other non-medicinal nicotine delivery systems are not regulated under tobacco control legislation because they do not contain tobacco. They must however, comply with the European Communities (General Product Safety) Regulations which specify the duties of producers and distributors placing products on the market.
While e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco, they do contain nicotine, a highly addictive substance which is the driver for cigarette smoking. Hence, there are legitimate concerns about the public health benefits of allowing such products to exist without regulation. Because they are a relatively recent product, there is limited scientific information available to balance the potential harms and benefits that might arise from more widespread public use.
The EU Tobacco Products Directive (2014/40/EU), inter alia, provides for the regulation of certain aspects of e-cigarettes across EU Member States. My Department is working to transpose the Directive into national legislation by the May 2016 deadline.
The Directive will:
- set mandatory safety and quality requirements e.g. on nicotine content, ingredients and devices, as well as refill mechanisms etc., for e-cigarettes;
- make health warnings and information leaflets obligatory;
- introduce notification requirements for manufacturers and importers of e-cigarettes; and
- impose stricter rules on advertising and monitoring of market developments.
In addition to the regulations under the Directive, e-cigarettes will be further regulated in Ireland through the introduction of a retail licensing system. The legislation, approved by Government will also prohibit the sale of these products to, and by, persons under 18 years of age.
Currently the evidence base does not support prohibiting vaping in public places although individual organisations/companies are free to introduce an e-cigs free policy. My Department will continue to monitor evidence on the potential harms and benefits of these products, so as to inform decisions around any future additional regulation in this area.