Home > Joint Committee on Health debate. General Scheme of the Public Health (Tobacco and Nicotine Inhaling Products) Bill 2019 (Resumed): Discussion.

[Oireachtas] Joint Committee on Health debate. General Scheme of the Public Health (Tobacco and Nicotine Inhaling Products) Bill 2019 (Resumed): Discussion. (17 Nov 2021)

External website: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/joint_...

Chairman: I welcome all our witnesses to our meeting this morning to discuss the public health (tobacco and nicotine inhaling products) Bill 2019, including Ms Averil Power, chief executive officer, and Mr. Paul Gordon, policy and public affairs manager, Irish Cancer Society; and Mr. Chris Macey, director of advocacy, and Mr. Mark Murphy, advocacy officer, Irish Heart Foundation.


Ms Averil Power: I thank the Chairman and members of the committee for inviting my colleague, Mr. Paul Gordon, and I to attend this meeting of the Joint Committee on Health on behalf of the Irish Cancer Society.


First, I would like to recognise all the work that has been done on this Bill to date, by the Minister, the committee members and the civil servants in the Department of Health and the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel. The Irish Cancer Society welcomes the Bill's provisions to ban the purchase of e-cigarettes by under-18s, to introduce a new licensing fees regime for tobacco and e-cigarettes and to end sales of tobacco products from vending machines and at child-centred events. These changes will help to reduce children’s opportunities to buy cigarettes and that is very welcome. However, unfortunately, it is not enough.


As we all know too well, if young people want something badly enough, they will find a way to get it. That is why the tobacco industry is spending billions making e-cigarettes attractive to children and why any legislation that does not address its aggressive advertising and child-friendly flavours and packaging is destined to fail.


Ireland has a proud history of being a world leader in tobacco control. The introduction of the workplace smoking ban and plain packaging by former Ministers for Health, the Taoiseach, Deputy Micheál Martin, and James Reilly were courageous and important victories for public health in a world that often values commercial interests more. Unfortunately, when it comes to e-cigarettes, Ireland is a laggard, not a leader. Estonia, Finland and Hungary have banned non-tobacco flavouring in e-cigarettes and the Netherlands announced its intention to do the same. Nine EU countries have total bans on e-cigarette advertising, promotion and sponsorship. Right now, while young people elsewhere in Europe are being protected against e-cigarette marketing, young Irish people are being bombarded with ads on billboards, on buses and at checkouts. Our young people deserve better. As the head of the Health Research Board, HRB, Dr. Jean Long, recently stated:


Children and adolescents require the same protection from e-cigarettes as conventional tobacco cigarettes through a well-enforced regulatory regime of measures including age restriction on purchase, control of availability through licensing outlets, limits to product visibility and attractiveness, and appropriate pricing through taxation.


From speaking to policymakers I understand the need for tougher e-cigarette regulation that their hesitance to do so is driven by genuine concerns. They want to help adult smokers to quit and believe e-cigarettes have a role to play. They know individuals, as I am sure we all do, who have moved from smoking tobacco to vaping and they are persuaded by industry arguments that the kind of measures required to protect young people from vaping will hinder the efforts of long-term smokers to quit tobacco.


[For the full Debate click on this link to the Oireachtas website]

Repository Staff Only: item control page