Chambers welcomes the UK Government’s consultation on a smoke-free generation proposals

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Chambers welcomes the UK Government’s consultation on a smoke-free generation proposals

Ulster Unionist health spokesperson Alan Chambers MLA said, “I welcome the UK Government's consultation on smoke-free generation proposals. The consultation extended to Northern Ireland allows elected representatives and constituents to highlight the concerns faced by the people of Northern Ireland.

“On average, there are 2,200 smoking-related deaths per year in Northern Ireland, with increases in smoke-related diseases such as lung cancer, premature heart failure and strokes. This consultation is extremely important to help address the growing concern about smoking and, more recently, vaping. Statistics show a staggering increase in people, especially young people, who have taken up vaping, and it is essential we look at implementing greater restrictions and regulations. Vaping was intended as a short-term measure to help people quit smoking, but instead, people have now started vaping, having never smoked a cigarette before in their lives. 

“Unlike cigarettes, vapes do not have the same restrictions or regulations. Each year, numbers continue to rise for how many people in Northern Ireland smoke and vape, and the age at which people start smoking or vaping is getting lower. Vape advertising has become specifically targeted to the younger generation through colourful packaging and attractive flavours and names. Whilst there are no long-term studies, as of yet, outlining the impact vaping has on individuals, we already know the short-term impacts on people suffering from health problems, including lung problems, brain development issues, as well as nicotine addiction. 

“Nicotine is a very addictive substance, and once these children begin vaping or smoking, it becomes almost impossible for them to stop. With the lack of a functioning Executive and Assembly, we have not been able to discuss potential policy moves to see tighter restrictions on vapes. When Robin Swann was Health Minister, he brought forward legislation that made it illegal for under 18-year-olds to buy vapes and for proxy purchases. However, vapes are continuing to fall into the hands of young people, and a move towards a smoke-free generation may be the answer to help address these growing issues.”