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Back in February 2016, the Department of Health (DOH) was granted authority by the Northern Ireland Assembly, to generate regulations that would restrict the accessibility of nicotine products such as e-cigarettes, to minors.

Last Thursday, a report presented at a meeting of Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Health and Community Committee, held in Strabane, highlighted a new legislation. This new law includes two offences. The first is selling nicotine products to a person under 18, and the second is purchasing such a product on behalf of a minor.

” Use of e-cigarettes has grown significantly in popularity in the past five years’ and that ‘while the Department of Health (DoH) accepts that they may have a role to play in harm reduction, it is concerned by evidence which shows they are being used by children and young people”.Department of Health

The report highlighted that anyone caught infringing these regulations will face a fixed fine of £250. Any offenders who fail to pay this fine, will be referred to court where they might face fines up to £5,000. Additionally, any repeat offenders whether individuals or businesses, could receive a Restricted Sales Order or a Restricted Premises Order from the court. This would deny them the right of selling such products for as much as three years.

The report pointed out that the “use of e-cigarettes has grown significantly in popularity in the past five years’ and that ‘while the Department of Health (DoH) accepts that they may have a role to play in harm reduction, it is concerned by evidence which shows they are being used by children and young people”.

To ban or not to ban?

Since most smokers become fully fledged addicts before they have even turned 18, restricting their access to the safer alternatives may be detrimental .
Public health experts have mixed opinions about restricting the products to minors. Whilst everyone is in agreement that adolescents who have never consumed nicotine products should ideally not be exposed to them. Others feel that since most smokers have their first cigarette puffs in their early teens and become fully fledged smokers before they even turn 18, restricting access to the safer alternatives to this latter group may be detrimental.

 

Additionally, a study conducted last year, by a Professor of Criminology from Durham University which addressed behavioural patterns in adolescents in relation to vaping,  found that “young people do not consider vaping as a nicotine-inhaling method”. The study had concluded that only 28% of the observed adolescents used e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid, while the rest of them consider it a fun hobby unrelated to smoking. The latter tend to refrain from using nicotine-containing e-liquids in their devices.

Read Further : Derry Now

Strict e-cig rules are pushing youths to smoke

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