The Irish Heart Foundation and Irish Cancer Society commissioned focus group research by IPSOS MRBI, among third and fourth year students, asking for opinions about flavours and packaging design.
Failing to release details of the study, the groups claimed the children “asserted that such flavours were strongly associated with snacks, treats and sweets that appeal to young people. There was also unanimous rejection by teenagers of the idea that e-cigarette companies don’t design their advertising and packaging to attract children.”
Tim Collins, CEO of the Irish Heart Foundation, said “The fact that the only purpose of flavours like strawberry milkshake, cherry crush, chocolate mint and caramel is to lure a whole new generation of children into nicotine addiction has been endorsed resoundingly by the teenagers who took part in this research.”
“The usefulness of e-cigarettes is as a harm reduction tool for long-term smokers who have been unable to quit using established methods. The idea that they need chocolate or bubblegum flavoured e-cigarettes to achieve that, or branding that features cartoon characters and bright attractive packaging has been exposed as preposterous by these young people”
Averil Power, CEO of the Irish Cancer Society, said “It is crystal clear that long-term smokers represent just a small part of the target market of the big e-cigarette brands. The bigger objective – and the bigger profits – lie in causing children and young people who have never smoked to become addicted to nicotine.”
“Banning the sale of e-cigarettes to under 18s is important, but it’s not enough to protect young people. We have to extend this ban to flavours and aggressive advertising tactics that have led in the US to what the Surgeon General described as an “epidemic” of youth e-cigarette use.”
Ireland’s health minister Simon Harris welcomed the recent presentation by the Irish Heart Foundation and Irish Cancer Society and pledged tough action on vaping.
Declan Connolly, chief executive of the independent Irish Vape Vendors Association, said the organisation was OK with the proposed legislation. Connolly said: “There is probably room for change in the way vaping is marketed. There should be no place for cartoonish marketing of flavours that are marketed to appeal to youth.”
Connolly added that he was fine with the idea of prohibiting vape advertising near to school premises and also suggested that billboard advertising “should also be looked at”.
The only point where he took issue was with restrictions on flavours: “We would vehemently disagree with trying to ban flavours. Many, many vapers rely on flavours to keep them smoke free. They don’t want to vape something that reminds them of smoking, they want to move away from that completely.”
- Ireland Cracks Down on Vaping, POTV - [link]