France to ban electronic cigarettes from all public places and subject them to the same tight rules as tobacco
- Follows five-year ban on regular tobacco cigarettes across France
- French health agency declared the electronic cigarettes dangerous in 2011
France is set to ban electronic cigarettes from public places and subject them to he same tight controls as tobacco, the government has announced.
The move has sparked outrage among sellers and users of the battery-powered devices which contain liquid nicotine that is turned into a vapor when inhaled.
Health Minister Marisol Touraine confirmed reports that a ban would go ahead on France’s Europe 1 radio today.
The electronic cigarettes are currently legal to use, while ‘normal’ cigarettes have been banned for five years in France
She said: ‘The e-cigarette is not an ordinary product. We need to apply the same measures as there are for tobacco.
‘That means making sure it cannot be smoked in public places, that its sale is restricted to over 18s and that firms are not allowed to advertise the products.’
The plans come after recommendations to outlaw the devices were made in a specialist French report published earlier this week.
E-cigarettes are currently legal to use in bars and restaurants and all other public places, where traditional smoking has been banned for five years.
A ban would harm the booming e-cigarette industry in France, where around 500,000 people use the gadgets, vendors insist.
Darren Moon, the English owner of online store Vapshop.fr, said: ‘If they ban it in public or in the workplace, I’ll be closing my store, or moving it somewhere where there aren’t restrictions like that.
‘Twenty percent of our business is selling disposable e-cigarettes to restaurants, clubs, bars and hotels. So if there’s a workplace ban, I’d have to start firing people.’
A spokesman from the London-based market intelligence firm Euromonitor International said today: ‘The e-cigarette market is developing very rapidly in France.
‘The two main advantages of e-cigarettes is that they’re seen as healthier than traditional cigarettes, and you can use them in settings like bars and restaurants, where traditional cigarettes aren’t allowed.
‘A measure like a public ban would reduce the public perception of harmlessness and remove the practical benefit of smoking an e-cigarette in the first place. So it would be highly damaging to the industry.’
E-cigarettes were first invented in China in 2003, as many nations began imposing bans on smoking, and are aimed at giving the user a similar sensation to smoking a cigarette.
They were thought to be much healthier than normal smoking is because they do not contain the tobacco and other carcinogens found in cigarettes.
But many experts have since expressed concerns about certain chemicals contained in the liquid, notably the compound propylene glycol.
In May 2011, the French health agency AFSSAPS advised against using the devices, saying they still contained nicotine, which even at a low concentration could lead to ‘damaging side effects’.
In March this year, health expert Professor Bertrand Dauzenberg told Europe 1 radio tha e-cigarettes could have the opposite effect that is designed for.
He added: ‘These electronic cigarettes could also lead children to start smoking and sale should be banned to minors.
‘However for heavy smokers, I believe these will reduce the health risks, but the best way to quit smoking is the patch or chewing gum.’