Parliamentary Question for the Minister for Health (James Reilly TD)
For WRITTEN ANSWER on 04/02/2013
To ask the Minister for Health his plans to regulate the sale and supply of e-cigarettes; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
I wish to inform the Deputy that I intend to regulate the e-cigarette market. In Ireland the current position is that if these products are not presented as medicinal products for smoking cessation or as medical devices with a therapeutic purpose, they do not fall under the medicinal products or medical devices legislation. As e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco they are currently not regulated under our tobacco legislation.
In order to harmonise the way EU Member States regulate e-cigarettes, the new Tobacco Products Directive being developed by the European Commission will, inter alia, provide for the regulation of e-cigarettes. It is anticipated that the Directive will be adopted formally by Council later this year following a vote in the European Parliament. Member States will have two years to transpose the Directive.
The Tobacco Directive will set mandatory safety and quality requirements e.g. nicotine content, ingredients and devices, as well as refill mechanisms etc. for e-cigarettes that do not fall under the definition of medicinal products of Directive 2001/83/EC. The new Directive will make health warnings and information leaflets obligatory, introduce notification requirements for manufacturers and importers of e-cigarettes, impose stricter rules on advertising and monitoring of market developments. The Directive will also enable Member States and the European Commission to react in the case of any identified health concerns related to these products.
Tobacco Free Ireland, Ireland’s tobacco control policy, states that the general consensus at European level is that there is a lack of research in relation to the long term health effects of e-cigarettes and a lack of sufficient evidence that they aid with smoking cessation. In light of the above and in view of the emerging evidence base around e-cigarettes, I have asked my Department to review the evidence on the potential harm and the potential benefits of e-cigarettes before deciding the best approach to their wider regulation.