Wednesday, 13 January 2016
Department of Health
598. To ask the Minister for Health if electronic cigarettes play a role in assisting persons in stopping smoking; the supports he will put in place for smokers wishing to stop smoking; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46807/15]
631. To ask the Minister for Health if he will introduce a licensing system for vaping products; if so, when; if he will implement tobacco products directive II, in as far as it relates to vaping products; what form this will take; if public consultation is envisaged; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1058/16]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 598, 599 and 631 together.
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.
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.
The Department recently undertook a public consultation seeking views on certain discretionary elements within the Directive. The submissions from the consultation are being analysed and will inform policy decisions. The Department is working to transpose the Directive into national legislation by the May 2016 deadline.
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. A public consultation process to obtain views on those measures was conducted early in 2015. The drafting of the Regulatory Impact Assessment is underway.
Current evidence-based means of quitting include behavioural support and pharmacotherapies. The HSE provides and promotes these safe and evidence-based services, supports and aids to help people to quit. The HSE recommends that those wishing to give up smoking use its cessation services as the first port of call.
The 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.