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Physicians want €500 spot fines for smoking offences

05 Feb 2015

The RCPI has published its response to the Department of Health’s public consultation on legislation for the sale of tobacco products and non-medicinal nicotine delivery system (NMNDS), including electronic cigarettes, calling for an on-the-spot fine for certain offences.

The College’s Policy Group on Tobacco proposed: “The fixed penalty notice amount should be sufficient to act as a deterrent — €500 is considered appropriate.

“Penalties for sale to minors, for example, should carry a more severe penalty. Repeat offences should also carry a more severe penalty than first offences,” the College added.

In addition to compliance with this legislation and the relevant articles in the Tobacco Products Directive (2014/40/EU), an applicant for a licence to sell NMNDS (including e-cigarettes) should be over 18 years of age, provide proof of identity and age, be tax compliant, hold a valid Revenue Commissioner Business Identifier, and be a fit and proper person.

A WHO report published in July 2014 stated that there was sufficient evidence to caution children and adolescents, pregnant women, and women of reproductive age about use of NMNDS because of the potential for foetal and adolescent nicotine exposure to have long-term consequences for brain development. As such, the College said, the regulation of the sale of such products was appropriate in the interest of protecting public health.

Second-hand exposure to vapours of NMNDS may also be an issue, it added.

The RCPI and ASH Ireland have welcomed the Bill proposed by Senators Averil Power and Prof John Crown for the introduction of tight regulations on e-cigarettes similar to those for the sale and use of tobacco products, and hoped it would lead to new regulations.

Dr Pat Doorley, Chair of the RCPI Policy Group on Tobacco, said: “We note that the Department of Health has indicated its commitment to regulation in this area. In particular, prohibition of sale of e-cigarettes by and to under-18s would make it clear that electronic cigarettes are not innocuous consumer goods, but that they contain addictive substances, with potential long-term health effects, and that they have possible gateway and normalisation effects to tobacco use.”

Lloyd Mudiwa

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Irish Medical Times