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To vape or not to vape? Restaurants need clarity, not confusion

The Restaurants Association of Ireland represents hundreds of such businesses here.

We're advising that it is the decision of the individual restaurants whether they want to ban the use of e-cigarettes or not.

But first, let's review the background to this.

Last month, MEPs voted that new rules should be confirmed by EU states on e-cigarettes and whether they would be classified as medicine or tobacco.

If they are classified as a tobacco product, they will have to be child-proofed and have the same rules placed on them as other tobacco goods, including banning their use in public spaces.

The Department of Health is currently reviewing the effects caused by the smoking of e-cigarettes and whether they are a health risk to other people standing nearby.

And because of this review, selling e-cigarettes to under 18s will soon be illegal.

So far, Iarnrod Eireann, Bus Eireann and Dublin Bus have decided to ban the use of the product on their transport services.

INITIATIVE

Until the Department comes to a decision on the vapour device, we are advising restaurants to take the same initiative and make a decision on whether or not they want their patrons using e-cigarettes in their establishments.

Using e-cigarettes, or 'vaping as it's called,is causing a problem in some restaurants.

Some customers claim the devices are ugly to look and say that they should not be used indoors.

Since the smoking ban was introduced in Ireland 10 years ago, people have become used to a smokeless atmosphere when dining out.

As a result, the ambience in restaurants has improved and diners are no longer bothered by the smell or the look of smoke while trying to enjoy their meals.

A decade on, it has become a lot more enjoyable for non-smokers to go out.

E-cigarettes are supposed to be smokeless and odourless, but this is not the case.

Many of them come in different flavours, including bubble gum and apple.

On top of that fact, the vapour produced looks like a lot like smoke.

This might bother someone, especially if they were sitting in a nice restaurant and someone took out an e-cigarette and proceeded to 'light up'..

Countries such as Australia and Canada have banned the sale of e-cigarettes that contain nicotine.

Other countries including France and Norway, have decided to treat them as tobacco products.

BANNED

US cities including New York, Boston, Chicago and recently LA, meanwhile, have banned the product from public spaces such as bars, restaurants and nightclubs.

Individual chefs and restaurateurs have also banned e-cigarettes from their restaurants, saying that they look tacky, or that their customers have complained about people using them.

However, other restaurant owners have decided to allow people to use them, arguing that they only do so on rare occasions such as when the restaurant has quietened down for the night.

Whether or not Irish restaurateurs call the shots on e-cigarettes in their establishments, the Department of Health needs to clarify the issue.

Only then will the decision be finalised for restaurant owners and, of course, their customers.

ADRIAN CUMMINS IS CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER AT THE RESTAURANTS ASSOCIATION OF IRELAND


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