They are used by thousands of smokers who are either looking to kick the habit or just for a healthier alternative.
But new research has found electronic cigarettes don’t in fact help quit smoking and they still posed a potentially serious health risk because they contained nicotine.
The report warns the gadgets, sometimes known as e-cigarettes, should not be used by young people as it still delivered nicotine to the body and could lead to them taking up real cigarettes.
Danger: The report by the Italian Health Ministry says electronic cigarettes may not help people quit smoking and still posed health risks
The Italian Health Ministry issued the warning in a report today described the e-cigarette as ‘less toxic’ but warned it was not ‘totally innocuous’.
But, an association of electronic cigarette makers said the device was intended to help people who are already smokers, ABC News has reported.
There has been much debate over the safety of electronic cigarettes, which delivers nicotine through a vapour, as opposed to smoke.
Roberta Pacifici, director of Italy Observatory on Smoking, Alcohol and Drug Use at the National Health Institute, who worked on the report, told Italian news agency ANSA, warned she was not convinced the gadgets were entirely safe.
She said: ‘We have to have a prudent approach towards this product as we know little about its worth in stopping people smoking or how toxic it is.’
Mrs Pacifici said the scientific reports studied ‘do not reassure us about the effectiveness or the innocuousness of its use’.
But she did say while the levels of nicotine could vary in electronic cigarettes, it was usually lower than in a normal cigarette.
Laws governing the use and sales of e-cigarettes and the liquids vary across the globe,
But Mrs Pacifici told the La Repubblica daily paper, in Italy: ‘Should its efficacy as a means to curb smoking be proven it should still be treated like all the other substitutive nicotine products like nicotine gum and band aids…as a medical device.’
ABC News website