The European Commission may be considering a clampdown on e-cigarette sales to children, a statement by the EC health commissioner on July 3 indicates.
Speaking in response to a written question from Lega MEP and ID Group member Gianantonio Da Re, the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, noted that the European Council had already recommended that individual European Union countries take measures “aimed particularly at reducing demand for tobacco products by children and adolescents”.
However, Kyriakides went on to admit that EU directives aimed at preventing cross-border distance sales – such as sales completed online between two parties in different EU countries – have so far failed to prevent such products from ending up in the hands of minors.
“With regard to cross-border distance sales, the report on the application of the Tobacco Products Directive pointed to insufficient monitoring and enforcement of its cross-border distance sales restrictions or bans,” she said.
“It concluded that age verification systems seemed to be ineffective, varied between Member States and were insufficiently enforced.”
Kyriakides also said that while the EU ‘lacked competency’ regarding the sale of tobacco products within Member States, it nevertheless wished to see countries take further steps to prevent sales of vapes to young people.
Such a sentiment appears to be echoed by several EU nations, with the likes of Belgium and Luxembourg, already having bans on selling vapes and e-cigarettes to children in place.
Her response comes amid concern in several Member States regarding the rising popularity of vapes and other electronic nicotine products among those under 18, with Spain, the Netherlands and Ireland among countries now looking to tackle the issue.
Spain’s National Committee for Smoking Prevention issuing a warning back in May that e-cigarette companies appeared to be trying to attract underage buyers by using colourful products with various cartoon-like designs and attractive flavourings.
Despite the fact that such sales to minors are already supposed to be illegal in the country, Andrés Zamorano, the Spanish organisation’s president, accused tobacco companies of trying to market to “eight or nine-year-olds” using such methods.
Meanwhile, Ireland looks set to ban the sale of vapes to children by the middle of this month, with the country’s Public Health (Tobacco and Nicotine Inhaling Products) Bill to also prohibit advertisements for the products near schools.
Outside the EU, New Zealand recently implemented similar legislation banning the sale of e-cigarettes to children, while Australia has opted to take measures a step further; the country’s government is now planning an outright ban on vaping for both children and adults.