Members will be aware that the Department of Health intends to further regulate the ways that nicotine-inhaling products (e-cigarettes and vaping units) are sold.
A report from the Joint Oireachtas Committee (See Here) on the pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill, which is also designed to licence the sale of tobacco products was published last Friday.
Whilst the Bill was ( relatively) benign in the imposition of restrictions to consumer choice, the Committees Report was “full double barrel ” in recommending the outlawing of all flavours other than tobacco . The Report also recommended that the products be subjected to the same packaging regulations as exist for tobacco products.
The Report recommended that studies should be carried out to ascertain whether it would be feasible to increase the minimum age at which both tobacco and vaping products could be purchased. The suggestion is to raise the age from 18 to 21.
We noted the suggestion from the Committee that studies should be commissioned to consider whether the availability of packs of cigarettes in quantities greater than 20 ( Big Boxes) lead to negative outcomes due to increased consumption.
The Committee also recommended that the Government should work towards reducing the amount of Personal Allowances for tobacco products that Returning visitors to other EU Member States can avail of.
Recommendations from Joint Oireachtas Committee that have been charged with scrutinising Bills are rarely adopted in full. A recent analysis showed that, on average, fewer than 40% of recommended changes were agreed by the sponsoring Department.
There is, however, a significant level of outright hostility from many corners towards vaping products that could see some, or most ,of the additional restrictions called for by the Committee to be incorporated into the Bill when it is published after the summer recess.
The disclosure in recent weeks of some of the decidedly unethical marketing techniques adopted by the Chinese owners of the Elf Bars serves to prove the points being made by the legislators that vaping products have moved from being a smoking cessation device towards a lifestyle product with an addictive characteristic. (See here)