NEW electronic cigarettes could be banned in public places like tobacco cigarettes under recommendations from a scientific advisory panel to the health ministry.
E-cigarettes are inhalers that vaporise nicotine liquid to simulate the act of smoking and they are being used by nearly one million people in France without, until now, any real scientific examination on their long-term effects.
Respiratory specialist Professor Bernard Dautzenberg, of the anti-tobacco addiction agency OFT, says in a report to Health Minister Marisol Touraine that e-cigarettes can be useful to get people away from smoking but with the real danger they could also incite others to start smoking.
The explosion in shops selling e-cigarettes has taken France by surprise with the 500,000 “vapers” or “vapoteurs” in 2012 doubling in a year and creating a business that is worth €100million.
E-cigarettes have replaced tobacco cigarettes in places where smoking is banned – although Air France and SNCF have prohibited vaping on board planes and trains as the fumes can set off smoke detectors. Hoteliers and restaurateurs group Umih has also imposed a ban.
Now Prof Dautzenberg says new rules should be brought in to halt usage in public places. He said on France Info: “For a smoker to pass from real cigarettes to e-cigarettes obviously reduces the risk but we would not want it to be a way for people to develop nicotine dependence. Vaping in a school yard is an incitement to smoke for pupils.”
Among the recommendations, the group said sales should be regulated (through using tabacs or other regulated premises); that the nicotine content be reduced from 20mg/ml to 18mg/ml; that sales to minors be banned, that advertising be banned and that manufacturers should prove that the aromas used are safe.
At present smoking kills 73,000 a year in France.