Minister for Health Simon Harris has accused the producers of vaping products of attempting to get young people addicted to nicotine.
Mr Harris said he was considering restricting the advertising of e-cigarettes close to schools and playgrounds. Similar measures in relation to alcohol advertising were rolled out this week. Draft legislation banning the sale of e-cigarettes to under-18s is due before the Oireachtas health committee next month.
“It is now my intention to bring in advertising restrictions as well (on e-cigarettes),” he told reporters on Wednesday. “We’ve a lot of work to do in this area, it is an area that is evolving in terms of the international medical advice available.”
The Minister added: “These companies are not producing cessation products, these companies are targeting our kids, they’re trying to get the next generation of young Irish people hooked and addicted to a nicotine product. We can’t stand for that.”
Mr Harris was speaking following the publication of a study by cardiologists which says that e-cigarettes damage the brain, heart, blood vessels and lungs.
The study, published in the European Heart Journal, examines how e-cigarettes can cause damage to the body through toxic chemicals produced in the vaping process, which may also be present at lower concentrations in vaping liquid.
Separately, Mr Harris said there are "too many layers" in the health service and he welcomed HSE director general Paul Reid saying that he would initiate a strategic redundancy scheme next year.
“It is his [Mr Reid’s] job to identify what skills he will need in his organisation as we deliver Slaintecare,” the Minister said.
“My understanding is that he has some research being done into that as we speak looking at what are the roles now you would need in a reformed health service...We have great people working in the HSE but it is too bloated in terms of structure. I think people in the HSE would tell you that too.”
Mr Harris was speaking at the launch of a new patient advocacy service, which is aimed at supporting patients who wish to make a complaint about care received in a public hospital. The service offers a confidential helpline with advocates on-hand to provide information and support to patients who want to make a formal complaint to the HSE.
“I’ve met people across the country who have encountered difficulties in the Irish health service but have felt there was nowhere for them to turn,” Mr Harris added. “This service will offer patients a helping hand when they are unhappy with the care they receive. It is free, independent and run by specially trained patient advocates.”