Disposable vapes have become "absolutely addictive" for young people, with no age restriction and a wide range of sweet flavours.
Last weekend, French Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne announced the country would ban disposable vapes, claiming they encourage people to take up smoking.
A survey carried out by Ipsos in July found 64% of respondents support the banning of disposable e-cigarettes.
Vapes have become increasingly more popular in Ireland, with Irish Business Against Litter (IBAL) reporting disposable vapes are ending up as litter on Irish beaches at a growing rate.
On the streets of Dublin, Newstalk reporter Matthew Joyce asked people why they chose to take up vaping.
It's a lot easier to hide from your parents... I think that's why disposables just appeal to younger people," said one young woman.
One young man claimed the vape was a healthier alternative to smoking, but said he became "very addicted".
"You know when you leave the house without your keys [and] you get that was the feeling – I was getting that at night going to bed without having the vape within arm's reach," he said.
A former shop employee said she often served vapes to people in their teenage years.
"It's just it's so easy," she said.
"It was always just lame ... if I was walking down the street and seeing someone smoking, I would think they were cooler than seeing someone walking holding a disposable.
"They're like 10 times more addictive than cigarettes – you just keep buying them."
A GP specialising in addiction medicine, Dr Garrett McGovern told The Pat Kenny Show his biggest concern is that vaping has overtaken smoking in the narrative around addiction.
"We've taken our eye off the ball somewhat in youth initiation of smoking," he said.
"Young people will try a lot of things – we don't have an age restriction [on vaping] in this country at the moment which is astonishing."
Dr McGovern said there needs to be "far more scrutiny" around the way disposable vapes are sold, but he is in favour of flavour choices to benefit smokers who want to quit.
"It is absolutely critical [for quitting smoking] because they're trying to get away from the tobacco flavour," he said.
"There's no evidence whatsoever that if we ban flavours young people won't try tobacco-flavoured vapes."
Price and nicotine
Respiratory consultant Dr Emmet O’Brien said only about 10% of children use vaping products to help them stop smoking.
"In Ireland, we've seen a huge growth in youth vaping from 2015 to 2019, we've seen a growth from 23% to 37% and that's certainly higher now in 2023," he said.
"Children don't have the same difficulty getting €7 together as they would getting €20 together for a pack of cigarettes.
"One of those disposable vape products can have the equivalent amount of nicotine as 40 cigarettes.
"That level of addiction is leading to a generation of youth that are going to come up addicted to nicotine products and lead to more smoking in the longer term."
Dr O'Brien said the flavours are a way of targeting children.
"I don't think your 75-year-old smoker who's looking to quit is very interested in bubblegum and pink lemonade flavour," he said.
Dr O'Brien suggested raising the tobacco age as part of a commitment to a "tobacco-free Ireland".
"You start with an age demographic that never smoked or never legally allowed to purchase cigarettes and you advance that age forward," he said.
"If you move that demographic to an older age that will reduce the nicotine exposure to that generation."