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Several media outlets have reported on the suggestion this weekend from former Health Minister, James Reilly, that Ireland should ban flavours in e-cigarette liquids. He has been a long-time sceptic towards safer nicotine products and appears to be trying to conflate e-cigarettes - which are strictly regulated in Ireland under the EU Tobacco Products Directive - with illegal oil-based THC solutions which have been causing illness and deaths in the USA.

Reilly is currently standing for re-election in Dublin representing Fine Gael and, as a result, his party press released his comments on their website. He states that “Vapes are not ‘quit smoking’ devices” and that “While the science is still evolving, it is clear to me that we should not be making vaping an attractive prospect”.

Previously, Reilly stated in his government health role that he wanted to be on “evidence-based ground” when making policy decisions towards e-cigarettes, but he seems to have abandoned that in favour of an ideological approach which threatens to wipe out a major benefit of vaping in helping consumers avoid relapse. His justification is flawed. Making vaping an attractive prospect would encourage far more smokers to switch to vaping – which Reilly accepts is “safer than regular tobacco” - to join the substantial number of Irish vapers who have, indeed, already successfully used them as a quit smoking device.

"It's disappointing to see vaping being used as an election gambit”, said Tom Gleeson of ETHRA partner NNA Ireland, “especially from a doctor who should know better. Tobacco harm reduction is a growing movement which is driving fast reduction of smoking rates in countries which implement sensible regulation. As Minister of Health, James Reilly launched a project to achieve a 'smoke-free Ireland', this suggestion would seriously obstruct such an aspiration and should be strongly resisted. If you are a constituent of Dublin Fingal who vapes, keep in mind when you vote in the upcoming by-election that Reilly intends to take your flavours away. We would also advise all Irish vapers to write to their elected representatives – especially if they are Fine Gael members - and politely explain why this policy suggestion should be abandoned.".

Further reading: TheJournal.ie article including a poll. Follow NNA Ireland on Twitter here.