A spokesperson for the Department of Health has said the Government approved the drafting of a General Scheme of a Bill last year to restrict e-cigarette sales.

The bill would prohibit the sale of non-medicinal nicotine delivery systems, including e-cigarettes, to those under 18 years of age and by those under 18 years.

The spokesperson said this bill would also deal with the introduction of a licensing system for those products.

A public consultation on the legislation has just been completed.

The department spokesperson said the drafting of the heads of this bill is currently under way.

With regard to the possibility of further controls, the spokesperson said the Department was monitoring existing and emerging evidence on the potential harm and benefits of these products, so as to inform decisions around any future additional regulation in this area. 

This will include cooperation with the Oireachtas Health Committee and other legislators. 

At European level, the European Council adopted a new EU Tobacco Products Directive which came into force on 20 May 2014. 

The department spokesperson said the directive provides for the regulation of e-cigarettes, including setting mandatory safety and quality requirements, making health warnings and information leaflets obligatory, and imposing stricter rules on advertising.

Member states have two years to transpose this directive into domestic legislation.

The department statement comes after two senators proposed legislation to tighten the regulation around the sale and marketing of e-cigarettes.

Fianna Fáil Senator Averil Power and Senator and Professor John Crown launched a bill this morning which would see e-cigarettes treated the same as tobacco-based products.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Ms Power said that while e-cigarettes were not as bad for people’s health as tobacco, they still did damage as they can contain high levels of nicotine and other toxins.

As there was currently no regulation at all on the products, she said, they did not carry health warnings and could be sold to children.

Much of the debate around e-cigarettes has been marked by a lack of information, however, with little still known about the benefits and risks of the products.

Last year the EU’s proposals were met with some criticism from scientists, who questioned the data on which the proposals were based.

They also argued that over-zealous regulation could stifle an industry that has the potential to help traditional smokers end their dependence on tobacco-based products.

However health organisations are yet to promote e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool, as there is currently no concrete evidence to suggest that they give any advantage to those trying to quit.