Cheap disposable vapes are heavily targeted at Irish teenagers via social media, expert warns
Cheap, fruity-flavoured, “candy-coloured” disposable vapes with names such as Elf bar, are being heavily marketed on social media to Irish teenagers, a respiratory health consultant has warned.
The e-cigarettes, which have been on the Irish market for a year, contain high levels of nicotine, which is highly addictive and has adverse effects on teenage brain development, said Professor Des Cox, head of the respiratory department at Crumlin. Hospital, Dublin.
“We have no data on the use of disposable vapes in Ireland. We know they are available to buy across Ireland at retail outlets and are heavily marketed to teenagers “, did he declare.
“There has been an explosion in their use in the UK. A research study showed a 50% increase in vaping among Irish teenagers aged 16-17 from 2015 to 2019. Vaping is not a trivial activity – research shows it is bad for the lungs and the heart.
“Adolescents who vape have a four times greater risk of starting to smoke.”
According to Professor Cox, chair of the Royal College of Physicians’ Tobacco Policy Group, teenagers should be strongly discouraged from using any form of e-cigarette.
“The devices are also bad for the environment, they are single-use and have lithium batteries inside, which are just thrown away,” he said.
Professor Cox added that a recent Ash UK survey found almost all teenage respondents who had seen e-cigarettes promoted had seen them on TikTok.
A spokeswoman for Vape Business Ireland (VBI), the trade body representing the industry of manufacturers and vape shops, said disposable vapes have been around for about a year.
They are generally less expensive than non-disposable products and “offer an affordable alternative for former adult smokers”.
She added that they provide an “appropriate alternative to smoking and act as a crucial harm reduction tool for a proportion of former adult smokers.”
The spokeswoman said that since 2015, the trade body “consistently calls for a ban on the sale of vaping products to those under 18.”
“Unfortunately, no legislation currently exists,” she said. “Our association has made it clear that vaping products should only be available to former adult smokers and our members adhere to a strict code of conduct.
“VBI hopes that a ban on sales to those under 18, as set out in the general public health regime (Tobacco and Nicotine Inhalants Bill), will be enacted as soon as possible.”