Belfast Telegraph

Vaping firms targeting children to get them hooked on nicotine, Harris claims

The Health Minister has said he wants a ban on advertisements of vaping and e-cigarette products near schools.

Simon Harris said vaping advertising is targeting children (Brian Lawless/PA)
Simon Harris said vaping advertising is targeting children (Brian Lawless/PA)

By Aine McMahon, PA

The Government may ban advertisements of vaping products and e-cigarettes near schools and playgrounds as they are being “cynically” marketed to target young people and get them addicted to nicotine, Health Minister Simon Harris has said.

A study was published by cardiologists this week which said e-cigarettes damage the lungs, heart, brain and blood vessels.

This week, a ban on alcohol advertisements being placed near schools and playgrounds was introduced.

Speaking at the launch of a new patient advocacy service on Wednesday, Mr Harris said it is his intention to restrict advertisements of e-cigarettes and vaping products close to schools, creches and playgrounds.

It is extremely cynical what is happening here ... cartoon advertisements, strawberry flavours ... these companies are targeting our kids Simon Harris

He said: “I had an excellent meeting with the Irish Cancer Society and the Irish Heart Foundation yesterday in relation to this. They, like I, are extremely concerned in relation to vaping products are being marketed as cessation tools.

“It is extremely cynical what is happening here … cartoon advertisements, strawberry flavours … these companies are targeting our kids.

“There is significant danger in relation to teenagers being targeted by vaping companies; people who have never smoked tobacco and are now starting a new cycle of addiction to nicotine.

“It is a very different thing if you are a man or a woman in your 40s or 50s and you have been smoking 20 a day for 20 years, and you’re now moving to vaping.”

Mr Harris said he has commissioned the Health Research Board to look at all of the literature in relation internationally regarding e-cigarettes and vaping.

“We have a lot of work to do in this area, it is an area that is evolving in terms of the international medical advice available.”

Separately, Mr Harris said he also intends to bring forward a new policy to Government in relation to how patient representatives or advocates are paid and selected.

“We have seen lots of examples in recent months and years of excellent patient advocates coming forward. It is important we support them. These are people who give up a lot of their free time and try to hold down day jobs as well,” he said.

He added that the new patient advocacy service launched on Wednesday is aimed at supporting patients who wish to make a complaint about care received in a public hospital.

The service offers a confidential helpline with patient advocates who will provide information and support to patients who want to make a formal complaint to the Health Service Executive.

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