E-cigarettes could face pub ban in Republic
Electronic cigarettes would be banned from bars, restaurants and workplaces and made illegal for under-18s, under proposed new laws in Ireland.
As Scotland mulls similar prohibitions on the increasingly popular devices, two Irish senators, cancer specialist Professor John Crown and Averil Power, have introduced a bill in the Oireachtas (Irish parliament) to tighten regulations on e-cigarettes in the republic.
"I always recommend that people should stop smoking, but where that has been impossible, I think it can be better to use e-cigarettes," said Prof Crown, a consultant oncologist. "However, there are certain risks specific to e-cigarettes that don't emerge for traditional cigarettes."
The Independent senator said e-cigarettes which have wicks that over-heat the fluid can produce dangerous levels of volatile chemicals.
"Poor construction can lead to the inhalation of nickle and lead alloy particles," he added. "The material that the wick is constructed from may open users up to health problems like silicosis."
Under the proposed legislation, which would have to pass a number of stages before being enacted, Ireland's Health Service Executive (HSE) would be charged with monitoring emerging scientific evidence on e-cigarettes and tweak the law accordingly.
Last year, the HSE banned the use of the devices in all hospitals and health care centres, saying they had no evidence on their long term safety.
In Scotland, government ministers are consulting the public on a crackdown on e-cigarettes.
Proposed measures from Holyrood include a ban on their sale to under-18s, advertising restrictions, and making it illegal to smoke e-cigarettes in a car if there is a child under the age of 18 on board.
Last August, the World Health Organisation (WHO) called for a ban on their use indoors and their sale to children.
While experts are split about the usefulness of e-cigarettes as an aid to stop smoking, WHO said there was no firm evidence to support such claims.