Irish Heart Foundation calls for a ban on e-cigarette advertising
"We cannot allow an entire generation to become addicted to nicotine."
The Irish Heart Foundation (IHF) has called on the State to ban the advertisement of e-cigarette products.
It has said that the advertising of the products is clearly aimed at children, and that advertisements that "entice young people into nicotine addiction" should not be allowed.
In a statement issued to JOE on Monday, the IHF said that it has urged Simon Harris to include such a ban in the forthcoming legislation prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes to under 18s.
Chris Macey, Head of Advocacy with the Irish Heart Foundation, said: "The Irish Heart Foundation is advocating a ban on all e-cigarette product advertising, including in outdoor areas (such as billboards and on buses) and at the point of sale.
"We met Minister for Health Simon Harris, in Leinster House last week (Tuesday), along with colleagues from the Irish Cancer Society and urged him to include such a ban in the forthcoming legislation prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes to under 18s.
"We know from the experience of historically high youth smoking rates that a ban on sales to under 18s alone will not work. And we also know that predatory marketing tactics employed by international e-cigarette companies is already and will continue to fuel vaping rates among young people.
"It is crystal clear that children and young people are being targeted by these companies and lured into nicotine addiction through slick online marketing, along with attractive branding and flavours.
"In the US these tactics have resulted in what the Surgeon General described as an epidemic of youth e-cigarette use with an increase in current use, defined by use at least once in the previous 30 days, from 11.7% in 2017 to 20.8% in 2018, whilst preliminary data for 2019 released by the US Food and Drug Administration estimated the rate has gone up again to 27.5%.
"There should be a full ban on advertising of e cigarettes as with cigarettes. In terms of packaging, we believe the purpose of bright, attractive packaging, as well as the use of cartoon characters is to broaden the appeal of these products beyond long-term smokers and in particular to entice young people into nicotine addiction and should not be allowed."
A recent study has added to serious concerns that the Irish Heart Foundation has around the health impacts of e-cigarettes, particularly for children.
The study, which was published in the European Heart Journal, shows the damage that e-cigarettes can cause to the brain, heart, blood vessels and lungs.
Researchers found that an enzyme called NOX-2 was responsible for damage to blood vessels, including those in the lungs and the brain, as a result of e-cigarette vapour.
The man who led the study, Professor Thomas Münzel of the Department of Cardiology of the University Medical Centre in Mainz, Germany, said e-cigarettes were so dangerous, as well as addictive, that countries should consider banning them.
"We cannot allow an entire generation to become addicted to nicotine," Münzel said.
He continued: "Our data may indicate that e-cigarettes are not a healthy alternative to traditional cigarettes, and their perceived ‘safety’ is not warranted.
"In addition, we still have no experience about the health side effects of e-cigarettes arising from long-term use. The e-cigarette epidemic in the US and Europe, in particular among our youth, is causing a huge generation of nicotine-addicted people who are being endangered by encouragement to switch from traditional cigarettes to e-cigarettes.
"Research like ours should serve as a warning about their dangers, and aggressive steps should be taken to protect our children from health risks caused by e-cigarettes."
This message was shared by Mark Murphy, Advocacy Officer with the Irish Heart Foundation, who described the results of the study as “hugely worrying”.
More information can be found on the Irish Heart Foundation website here.
Currently, the HSE's official line on vaping is: "E-cigarettes are still fairly new, so we don't yet know how safe they are or if they help people stop smoking. Because of this, we don't recommend e-cigarettes to help you quit smoking."
This news comes days after Apple made the decision to ban all vaping apps from the App store.