12 November 2022
By Elaine Murphy
Increasing the age of tobacco and nicotine-inhaling product purchases from 18 years of age to 21 was one of the key proposals from a recent report from the Tobacco 21 Alliance
Fine Gael Health Spokesperson and Cork North Central TD, Colm Burke, is calling for Government to give this proposal, among others, due consideration.
Yesterday, Deputy Burke hosted an event titled ‘Tobacco 21: The case for raising the legal age for the sale of tobacco and e-cigarettes in Ireland’.
The event featured presentations from the Irish Heart Foundation and ASH Ireland, Council of the Irish Heart Foundation, all in partnership with the Tobacco 21 Alliance.
Speakers for the event included Aoife Ní Riain, youth speaker from the Limerick Comhairle na nÓg alumni, Chris Macey, Director of Advocacy, Irish Heart Foundation, Norma Cronin, Chairperson, ASH Ireland, Council of the Irish Heart Foundation and Dr Emmet O’Brien, Consultant Respiratory Physician, Beaumont Hospital. Dr Paul Kavanagh, Specialist in Public Health Medicine, HSE, also joined the panel for a Q&A session.
Deputy Burke said, “A recommendation was included in the Report on Pre-Legislative Scrutiny of the Public Health (Tobacco and Nicotine Inhaling Products) Bill 2019 from the Oireachtas Health Committee that the Minister for Health should conduct a review on this research.
“The USA introduced Tobacco 21 (T21) as federal law in 2019. States that affected T21 measures before it became federal, saw smoking among 18-20-year-olds fall between 21.7% and 33.9%.
“Here in Ireland, T21 has large public support as demonstrated in an Ipsos poll for the Irish Heart Foundation. This showed that it is supported by 73% of Irish adults and 70% in the 18-24 age bracket. Meanwhile, HSE research found that 71% of people aged 15 and over supported Tobacco 21, including 73% of 15-17-year-olds and 66% of 18-20-year-olds.
“Ireland has a strong, internationally recognised tobacco-control record. However, the decline in smoking has stalled and even reversed. Smoking among the general population has increased to 18% in 2021 up from 17% in 2019, while teen smoking, is up to 14.4% in 2019 from 13% in 2015.”
“I have previously advocated that Ireland must take a leadership role in capping the level of nicotine in cigarettes and that vapes must face strict advertising restrictions similar to tobacco products. This proposal would be another step towards reducing tobacco consumption in Ireland and supporting public health.
“These proposals must now be given consideration and I call on the Government to begin a serious discussion on this matter,” concluded Deputy Burke.