Sir, – A good few years ago there were public health and social concerns about so-called “alcopops”. Rightly so. It is time the Government now looked closely into the sale of the colourful disposable vaping pens, available in flavours such as custard, strawberry and bubblegum. These pens, according to a recent report, can each contain as much nicotine as up to 50 cigarettes. The pens are aimed at the younger generation who are increasingly socialised into their use in TikTok stories.
The pens are clearly already popular in Ireland, given the numbers of them strewn around the roads of Sandycove and Dalkey like the aftermath of a gunfight in the Wild West.
The social nature of smoking has been repositioned and remarketed. The health impact of nicotine cannot be so easily disguised with cute emojis. The Government must act.
– Yours, etc,
Sandycove, Co Dublin.
Sir, – I read that Dr Javid Kahn’s review, commissioned by the UK government on tobacco use, recommends an increase in the minimum age for cigarettes each year until no one can buy them.
On World No Tobacco Day, May 31st, the HSE published its report with a new plan to build a Tobacco Free Ireland, admitting that over 4,500 deaths occur each year from smoking. It reports that smoking prevalence in the over 15 year-olds has risen from 17 per cent in 2019 to 18 per cent in 2021. Most alarmingly, the report admits that the goal of a Tobacco Free Ireland by 2025 is increasingly unachievable. Previously they had set a target of 5 per cent smokers by 2025. Admitting failure is only facing up to reality, but it does not mean that ultimate defeat is inevitable.
If we look to the US, where in December 2019, federal law made it illegal to sell tobacco to anyone under 21, we can get some pointers to success. At a stroke of a pen our legislation could raise it from 18 to 21 and save many lives. We could also go one step further and, in line with Dr Kahn’s report make it a rolling ban each year to include anyone born after 2001. In this way smoking could be almost totally eliminated incrementally over time.
To reach the end result desired by the HSE requires bold initiatives by politicians, practical and achievable targets, clear messaging and a buy-in by an informed and supportive public. This was successfully done with the Irish workplace smoking ban that led the world. We can lead again, if only we had the leadership.
– Yours, etc,
Templeogue, Dublin 6W.