Wicked Wizard E liquid France considers electronic cigarette ban in public places
France considers electronic cigarette ban in public places
Medical experts recommend e cigarettes should be subject to the same restrictions as tobacco smoking
Famous French smokers including the actor Catherine Deneuve and the novelist enfant terrible Michel Houellebecq have both publicly puffed on fake plastic slims while trying to give up smoking and retain a modicum of cool. But France's love affair with electronic cigarettes could be about to hit a major stumbling block as the government considers banning them from all public places, including restaurants and bars.
The battery-powered devices which let users inhale a vaporized liquid nicotine solution instead of tobacco smoke are the subject of a major medical report commissioned by the French health ministry and delivered on Tuesday.
The nation of Gauloises and Gitanes is showing an ever-growing dependence on electronic cigarettes, which were first produced in China in 2004 and allow smokers to get a nicotine fix without exposing themselves or others to the toxins, tar and carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke. Industry statistics show at least 500,000 people smoke e cigarettes in France but Bertrand Dautzenberg, the professor who led the report suggested there could already be as many as 1 million people using them in France. The market is reportedly worth €100m (£85m) in France with around 150 specialist shops.
The medical experts recommended that e cigarettes should be subject to the same restrictions as tobacco in France and therefore "banned from all the places where smoking is banned." France outlawed smoking in the workplace, including bars and restaurants, over the course of 2007 and 2008. Doctors also want the sale of e cigarettes to under-18s to be banned, warning that the electronic devices could be "a potential gateway to smoking tobacco." A recent study in Paris found that 64% of teenagers aged between 12 and 14 who had tried an electronic cigarette had not yet smoked a real one. A growing number of UK secondary schools have reportedly begun to ban e cigarettes over fears they lead to smoking tobacco.
Other recommendations in the French report include enforcing the same advertising rules on electronic cigarettes as regular cigarettes, warning against their use by pregnant or breastfeeding women and allowing them only to be sold at approved places. Manufacturers would have to make the case scientifically that the ingredients used are harmless.
Although e cigarettes are considered safer than smoking, doctors continue to debate the possible impact of some of the vapours' ingredients – including propylene glycol, which irritates airways, and formaldehyde, which is known to raise lung and nasal cancer risk. Doctors argue more research is needed. Countries including Turkey, Brazil, Argentina and Singapore have outlawed e cigarettes.
Last year, France's state auditor warned that successive efforts to curb smoking, from the 1991 law that bars and restaurants had to have smoke-free areas to the 2007 ban on smoking in the workplace, have not succeeded in making the nation cut down. The number of smokers fell from 34% to 31% between 2000 and 2005 but rose again to more than 33% by 2010. Women, young people and those in financial difficulty showed the highest rise in smoking. About 73,000 tobacco-related deaths are reported in France each year. The state auditor has said that only major price-increases would curb French smoking habits.