State to ban cigarettes sales from vending machines
THE Government has given the go-ahead to ban 7,000 cigarette vending machines and outlaw the sale of e-cigarettes to under-18s.
Health Minister James Reilly took his war on tobacco a step further yesterday by securing Cabinet approval for a range of radical measures which may form part of new legislation to be drafted.
The most controversial is the decision to outlaw the sale of cigarettes from vending machines, and other mobile outlets, which looks set to cost jobs in the industry.
He also got permission to introduce an annual licensing system for all sellers of tobacco – charging supermarkets more than corner shops. Currently, a once-off registration fee is all that is needed.
Other proposed measures include stricter fines for breaches of the law, putting retailers on longer suspension periods. The proposals also allow for those who flout regulations to be named and shamed.
At present, there is no minimum age for the sale of e-cigarettes and the Government indicated last night that it is to bring this into line with traditional tobacco products.
The matter is now going to be discussed by several departments across Government before the final legislation is agreed upon.
The Department of Health is to receive views from other departments in the coming weeks and the primary focus of the bill is to limit young people's access to smoking products.
A government spokesman confirmed that one of the matters under consideration is a ban on selling e-cigarettes to children under the age of 18. They are also looking at the possible restriction of vending machines in retail outlets.
The bill will also look at how such tobacco-replacement products are advertised in shops across the country.
The Government is still examining the health effects of e-cigarettes and other non-tobacco nicotine products and its legislation will be guided by those examinations.
The Irish Cancer Society says it would not currently recommend e-cigarettes to those trying to quit smoking as the effectiveness of e-cigarettes in helping people to quit has not been scientifically proven.
It has also said that the safety of e-cigarettes has not been scientifically demonstrated.
Scientific testing indicates that e-cigarettes vary widely in the amount of nicotine and other chemicals they deliver and there is no way for consumers to find out what is actually delivered by the product they have purchased.
E-cigarettes claim to satisfy nicotine addiction, delivering a "hit" of nicotine.