E-cigarettes are currently regulated under the European Union (Manufacture, Presentation and Sale of Tobacco and Related Products) Regulations 2016 (S.I. 271/2016). These Regulations transpose the EU Tobacco Products Directive (Directive 2014/40/EU). Under the Regulations health warnings which advise consumers that e-cigarettes contain nicotine which is a highly addictive substance are mandatory. The Regulations also provide for mandatory safety and quality requirements for e-cigarettes and refill containers, including maximum nicotine concentrations for e-cigarettes containing nicotine, and maximum volumes for cartridges, tanks and nicotine liquid containers. The Regulations require e-cigarette manufacturers or importers to notify the Health Service Executive of all products that they place on the market and, if a manufacturer, importer or distributor has a reason to believe that a product is not safe, they are required to immediately notify the Health Service Executive and to explain what corrective action has been taken. In relation to advertising, the Regulations prohibit advertisements for e-cigarettes online, on television and on radio.
In late October I received Government approval to draft legislation which will prohibit the sale of nicotine inhaling products such as e-cigarettes to and by persons under the age of 18. The Public Health (Tobacco and Nicotine Inhaling Products) Bill will also introduce a new licensing system for the retail sale of nicotine inhaling products.
E-cigarettes are not regulated under the workplace smoking ban, which was introduced on the basis of clear and unequivocal evidence that second hand smoke is harmful to non-smokers. That evidence base currently does not exist for the aerosol generated from e-cigarettes. However, evidence in relation to e-cigarettes is constantly evolving and in March of this year, I asked the Health Research Board to undertake a review of the evidence on the health harms of e-cigarettes, their effectiveness as an aid to smoking cessation and whether they act as a gateway to smoking tobacco products. The evidence review is expected to be completed in March 2020 and it will contribute to informing any future regulation in this area. It is also worth noting that individual organisations are free to introduce an e-cigarette free policy if they choose to do so and many have, including public transport providers and local authorities.