I have called for the promotion and sale of e-cigarettes to children under 18 to be prohibited as a matter of urgency. The call comes following a new UK study, released yesterday showing one in five students, aged between 14 to 17, had bought or tried e-cigarettes.
The report also revealed one in 20 of these teens had never smoked conventional cigarettes before. This suggests vaping may have become a new activity to experiment with among teens, rather than a device to help them quit conventional cigarettes.
The study, conducted in Liverpool, monitoring 16,000 teens in the North West of England and published in the journal BMC Public Health, found a strong link between e-cigarettes and alcohol use. It was revealed that under-aged drinkers were more likely to have obtained e-cigarettes than non-drinkers – while among the non-smokers, binge drinkers were four times more likely to have bought or tried e-cigarettes.
This report is all the more worrying considering the fact that teen culture here in Ireland tends to mirror that of the UK.
Although, the Government has acknowledged e-cigarettes contain a highly addictive substance and have approved the drafting of legislation which will prohibit the sale of these products to under 18’s, there are no specific regulations governing electronic cigarettes in Ireland.
While e-cigarettes are considered potentially less harmful than cigarettes, the long term health consequences of vaping are not yet well known. In fact, concern has already been raised, especially in the US, about the safety of the liquid inside the e- cigarettes, which can be harmful if ingested on its own.
The apparent speedy infiltration of vaping into teenage culture option is alarming. Exposure to nicotine in adolescence may lead to lifelong risks for addiction. Keeping the rates low in the youth should be a top priority.
As such I am now urging the fast tracking of legislation to prohibit the promotion and sale of e-cigarettes to under 18s.”