Tánaiste expresses hope disposable vapes could be banned in Republic

Comments come after British PM Rishi Sunak announced plans to ban devices entirely in hope of preventing use by children

A ban on the sale of vaping products and e-cigarettes to people under 18 years of age in Ireland came into effect in December. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

Tánaiste Micheál Martin has expressed hope that disposable vapes could be banned in the Republic saying the number of young people who are using vapes is “shocking”.

Mr Martin’s remarks come after British prime minister Rishi Sunak announced plans to ban the devices in a bid to prevent their use by children.

Asked at by reporters if he would like to see a similar move here, Mr Martin said: “I would hope so. I’m very anti-vapes generally.”

A ban on the sale of vaping products and e-cigarettes to people under 18 years of age came into effect in Ireland last month.


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Mr Martin, who brought in the workplace smoking ban as minister for health two decades ago, said: “The old trick of the tobacco industry was kids went in to buy sweets, you had cigarettes next to the sweets.

“You now have the vapes next to the sweets with different flavours”.

He said “clearly the objective” is to get young people “hooked” and to “have an industry for the next 50 years.”

Mr Martin suggested there is no “proper due diligence on what goes into these products” and he said there needs to be “far better, from a health perspective, analysis of the products in terms of their harmful impacts.”

Reacting to the British Government’s plans he said: “I welcome any means to crackdown on the sector.

“I just think it’s shocking the number of young people who are on the vapes now and it seems to me to be the replacement for the cigarettes.”

Mr Sunak announced plans on Monday to ban the sale of disposable vapes to prevent their use by children.

Under the new powers, there would be restrictions on vape flavours, a requirement for plain packaging, and changes to how vapes, or e-cigarettes, are displayed to make them less attractive to children.

“Alongside our commitment to stop children who turn 15 this year or younger from ever legally being sold cigarettes, these changes will leave a lasting legacy by protecting our children’s health for the long term,” Mr Sunak said in a statement.

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Smoking is Britain’s biggest preventable killer, causing one out of four cancer-related deaths, or some 80,000 a year, the UK government says. In October, Mr Sunak announced plans to pass a law which would mean that anyone born on or after January 1st, 2009, would be unable to buy tobacco in their lifetime.

While vapes are seen as key to helping people quit smoking, there has been concern they could be driving nicotine addiction among young people, with 9 per cent of 11- to 15-year-olds now using them, the government said.

The World Health Organisation said in December all vape flavours should be banned.

However, industry groups and the UK Vaping Industry Association argue that vapes pose significantly lower health risks than tobacco, and flavours were key in encouraging smokers to switch.

“I have an obligation to do what I think is the right thing for our country in the long term,” Mr Sunak said.

“That is why I am taking bold action to ban disposable vapes – which have driven the rise in youth vaping – and bring forward new powers to restrict vape flavours, introduce plain packaging and change how vapes are displayed in shops.” – Additional reporting Reuters

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Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times