5.3% of Irish children aged 10 to 17 said they were smokers in 2018, as opposed to 22.6% in 1998.
The report looked at school-aged children’s health behaviour between 1998 and 2018, and found that while more are vaping now than in the past, only 5.3% of Irish children aged 10 to 17 said they were smokers in 2018, as opposed to 22.6% in 1998.

The compiled data indicated other positive health trends. More than half of the children surveyed said they exercise regularly, and less were using substances three years ago than they did in the past.

Menthol ban

As of May 2020, menthol cigarettes, rolling tobacco and irregularly shaped cigarettes such as slims, have been banned across Ireland. The move is part of a four year phasing-out period by the EU Tobacco Product Directive (TPD) which entered into force on May 2014 and became applicable across the EU in May 2016.

Chair of the Policy Group on Tobacco at the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, Professor Des Cox, said he supports the ban because menthols make initiating smoking easier. “There’s been good research which demonstrates that young people are introduced to smoking often by menthol cigarettes as they find them more attractive, they find them less irritative and they find them more palatable, so that’s a way they get introduced to regular smoking. Also the cigarette companies today have targeted women with these products so we strongly feel that they should be banned and welcome the government’s decision to take this legislation forward,” said Cox.

Experts believe that menthol cigarettes give the sensory illusion of being less harmful than the regular type and therefore make it easier for people to smoke. The flavour in cigarettes is achieved via compound menthol, a substance which triggers cold-sensitive nerves without a real drop in temperature.

Additionally, in line with Cox’s argument, it is believed that menthol relaxes the airways and the flavour masks the harshness of tobacco smoke, which critics say may also be making it easier for first time smokers to start. Hence the menthol ban is expected to lead to a further decrease in smoking amongst minors.

Read Further: The Times

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