Department of Health will ‘monitor evidence on e-cigarettes’

Government has ‘concerns’ about nicotine content despite recent health findings

The Department of Health said it would continue to monitor evidence on e-cigarettes after health officials in Britain endorsed them as 95 per cent safer than their tobacco equivalents. File photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Department of Health said it would continue to monitor evidence on e-cigarettes after health officials in Britain endorsed them as 95 per cent safer than their tobacco equivalents. File photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

 

The Department of Health has said it will continue to monitor evidence on the potential harms and any benefits of e-cigarette products after health officials in Britain endorsed them as 95 per cent safer than their tobacco equivalents.

In a study published on Wednesday, Public Health England an agency of Britain’s Department of Health, backed their use.

It said e-cigarettes were not completely risk-free but that when compared with smoking, evidence showed they carry “just a fraction of the harm”.

The Department of Health and Children noted that although 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,” it said in a statement.

“Against that background, and whilst more research is awaited on the harms and benefits, there is a need to ensure that there is some regulation of e-cigarettes.”

Licensing system

The department noted the Government had approved the drafting of legislation to introduce a licensing system for such products.

The legislation will also prohibit the sale of these products to, and by, persons under 18 years of age.

“Work on the legislation is ongoing in the department,” it added.

In addition, the department was working to transpose into Irish law the revised EU Tobacco Products Directive which came into force in May 2014.

“The directive, inter alia, provides for the regulation of certain aspects of e-cigarettes across EU member states. Member states must transpose the directive into national law by May 2016.”

That law will set mandatory safety and quality requirements on nicotine content, ingredients and devices, as well as refill mechanisms for e-cigarettes.

Health warnings and information leaflets will be made obligatory and there will also be new notification requirements for manufacturers and importers of e-cigarettes.

Stricter rules on advertising will also apply.

The directive also gives the EU the power to prohibit any given electronic cigarette or refill cartridge if concern is raised regarding an unforeseen risk to public health.

The department said it would continue to monitor evidence on the potential harms and any benefits of these products, so as to inform decisions around any future regulation in the area.