To E or not to E?
ELECTRONIC cigarettes may not be as safe an alternative to smoking as they seem, according to Minister of State Paul Kehoe.
The Government Chief Whip has passed on concerns raised with him by constituents on the matter to Health Minister James Reilly.
The politician from Bree is anxious that adverts are now appearing intended to make the electronic nicotine devices appealing to young people.
While those who puff on the cig substitutes are spared the perils posed by smoke, there may yet prove to be other unpleasant side-effects.
There are also worries that some of the devices may be below standard in their manufacture or contents.
'The WHO (World Health Organisation)made a statement last month on electronic cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems, outlining concerns they have about the health implications that exist for those who use these devices,' noted Paul Kehoe. 'The WHO concluded that until these devices are deemed safe, consumers should be strongly advised not to use any of these products.'
He confirmed that he was responding to worries brought to him by parents unsettled by the number of adverts appearing for the so called e-cigarettes.
The ads appeared to be intended to glamorise such products rather then offering them as an aid to giving up the real thing.
He discovered that he is not the only member of Dáil Eireann to be uneasy about the increasingly popular puffers. He revealed that several of his fellow TD's are intent on raising the matter in Leinster House when it resumes sitting next month.
In the mean time, he has already outlined his concerns in a letter to Doctor Reilly and the State's Chief Medical Officer.
The Wexford politician's stance is backed by a WHO statement which was issued during July in which it was pointed out that the safety of 'electronic nicotine delivery systems' has never been scientifically demonstrated.
In fact, the world health scientists are not entirely convinced that such systems are valuable in helping people kick the smoking habit.
The WHO believes that they need to be vetted and given the all-clear before they can be recommended or approved.
Now Paul Kehoe has backed the WHO approach and suggested that, in the mean time, consumers should give them a miss.
Already, governments in Britain, France and the Brazil have introduced restrictions and he would like to see Ireland follow suit, especially with a clamp down on promotions to attract youngsters.
Nicotine is not only an addictive drug but it is also potentially lethal if absorbed in sufficiently high concentration. It is likely to be particularly harmful to children, young people, pregnant women, nursing mothers, people with heart conditions and the elderly.
The WHO has also noted that many of the liquid nicotine cartridges on the market contain propylene glycol, described by the experts as a 'toxic chemical'.