E-cigarettes must not be marketed to under-18s under new ad guidelines
The Irish Cancer Society has welcomed new advertising rules that say makers of e-cigarettes will have to set "clear distinctions" between their products and the tobacco industry.
New guidelines unveiled by the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) said manufacturers must not market their products directly at those under 18, and that they may not promote their use as a healthier alternative to smoking.
They have also ruled out the use of celebrities or healthcare professionals in adverts.
The Irish Cancer Society's head of advocacy has said he welcomed the news "with open arms", stating that current campaigns from makers of e-cigarettes are "echoing those once used by the tobacco industry."
"What we are seeing at the moment is a glamorisation of the use of e-cigarettes," said Eoin Bradley.
"This echoes the marketing ploys once used by the tobacco industry that have now been banned.
"The last thing we want to see is for e-cigarettes to mock up or pretend to be something that looks very similar to tobacco," he added.
"We especially welcome sections of the new code that requires e-cigarette manufacturers not to undermine the message that quitting tobacco use is the best health option for good health."
Mr Bradley added that further government legislation was needed to tackle what he called a "massive boom in the use of e-cigarettes in Ireland".
"At the moment there is no regulation and they have the same rules governing them as any consumer product, which means anyone under the age of 18 can buy one," he said.
Dublin Senator and Fine Gael candidate for Dublin West, Catherine Noone, has also welcomed the news, following a recent report in the US which raised fears that some young people could be using e-cigarettes to disguise cannabis use. The report, published this month in the health journal Pediatrics, has found that one in five American students are using e-cigarettes to inhale cannabis in a vaporised form.
"This report raises fears that Irish teenagers are doing the same and is surely a concern for both parents and medical professionals alike," she said.
The Irish Vape Vendors' Association has also welcomed the new code, but emphasised that they were "not part of the tobacco industry".
"We do not sell tobacco products, but rather an alternative that carries a vastly lower risk. To maintain the massive public health gains that these products offer in reducing the harm from smoking, it's important that advertising restrictions be proportionate," a spokesperson said.