Electronic Cigarettes

What are e-cigarettes? 

Electronic cigarettes are battery powered devices that people use to heat liquid into a vapor that can be inhaled. The liquid is contained in a reservoir within the device and generally consists of propylene glycol and glycerol, with or without nicotine and flavourings. 

Are e-cigarettes different to cigarettes?

Yes. While both e-cigarettes and cigarettes deliver nicotine to the user, cigarettes burn tobacco whereas e-cigarettes do not. 

How many people use e-cigarettes? 

The Healthy Ireland Survey (2018) reported that 4% of the Irish population currently use e-cigarettes and a further 12% of the population have tried them at some point. 9% of current smokers use e-cigarettes, with 10% of ex-smokers using them.

Are e-cigarettes regulated? 

E-cigarettes are not medical products or medical devices and are not regulated by the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA). The EU Tobacco Products Directive regulates certain aspects of e-cigarettes, including setting safety and quality standards, making health warnings mandatory, introducing notification requirements for manufacturers and importers, imposing stricter rules on advertising and monitoring market developments. 

Under Regulation 26 of the 2016 Regulations, a manufacturer or importer of an e-cigarette or refill container must submit a notification to the Health Service Executive of any such products he or she intends to place on the Irish market.

 The notification must be submitted through a European Union Common Entry Gate (EU-CEG) made available by the European Commission.

What assessments of e-cigarettes have been conducted in Ireland? 

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) published a Health Technology Assessment of Smoking Cessation Interventions in 2017.  It advised the Minister for Health as follows:

“Although the currently available results for e-cigarettes are promising, there is insufficient evidence at present to reliably demonstrate their effectiveness as an aid to smoking cessation. It would be appropriate to await the results of ongoing trials before deciding whether e-cigarettes should be recommended ... Should additional evidence confirm the effectiveness of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid, a decision to advocate their use should also take into consideration any additional information on the long-term safety of e-cigarettes use, as well as any emerging data in relation to concerns about the social normalisation of e-cigarettes leading to increased uptake among people who have never smoked, or later migration to tobacco cigarettes”.

What is the current policy on e-cigarettes in Ireland? 

In Ireland, government policy on tobacco control is set out in Tobacco Free Ireland (2013).  At the time of drafting, it noted that  there was a lack of research in relation to e-cigarettes, their long-term safety and their role as a stop smoking support. Current government policy does not identify a role for e-cigarettes in tobacco control in Ireland. The Department of Health continues to monitor evidence in this areas as part of its ongoing monitoring and review of Tobacco Free Ireland  and will determine any updates to policy as appropriate.