Vapes are becoming a "public health crisis" and should only be only through prescription, according to Fianna Fáil Senator Malcolm Byrne.
The Government announced a tax on vapes would be introduced in Budget 2025, but Mr Byrne told Moncrieff vapes shouldn’t be on the market at all.
“We're going to be facing into a public health crisis,” he said.
“There are already instances of where some teenagers and young people who have been consuming nicotine through vapes where it has caused damage to their lungs.
“We’ve got to take this really seriously.”
Mr Byrne said vapes “crept in” as an alternative to cigarettes, but they have created more problems than they have solved.
“The HSE don’t recommend it as a way of people getting off smoking cigarettes,” he said.
“I'm not enough of an expert to make a judgement in their cases, although a lot of the scientific evidence is pointing to the fact that [vaping] gets people off cigarettes, but it doesn't get rid of their nicotine addiction.”
He said the only exception would be if a doctor believed vaping would help someone wean off their nicotine addiction.
“A lot of it is anecdotal, but some people have said that this product has helped them to give up cigarettes and it helped wean them off nicotine products,” he said.
“If it is a way of helping some people, possibly a medical prescription should be allowed.”
'Flavours and fancy-coloured packaging'
The most important thing, according to Mr Byrne, is preventing young people from vaping.
“Young people who never smoked are taking up vaping,” he said.
“Literally what these companies are doing is they are pushing nicotine products on teenagers and young people.
“Why do you think these companies are marketing with flavours and with fancy coloured packaging?
“If we don't take action soon, we're going to see a lot of problems for those young people who are now starting today.”
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