The French government reaffirmed on Wednesday its desire to ban e-cigarettes in certain public places.
The country’s Health Minister Marisol Touraine has previously given plenty of hints that she intends to introduce a law to crack down on the use of the devices. This week she made her intentions clear.
“I am favourable to the banning [of e-cigarettes] in a certain number of public places where there are many people or where there are children or young people present,” Touraine said.
The minister also said whe wanted certain outdoor public spaces to be declared completely tobacco free by local mayors.
The details of her proposals will become clear when they are included as part of the next public health bill, set to be published this summer.
Currently people can freely use e-cigarettes in bars and restaurants, where traditional smoking is banned, as well as at work.
At present, employers have discretion as to whether or not to allow the use of e-cigarettes by employees.
Touraine’s proposals are in line with the recommendations made in a specialist report by Professor Bertrand Dauzenberg that was published last year.
However banning e-cigarettes in public could do serious damage to France’s burgeoning e-cigarette industry, which has enjoyed something of a boom in recent months.
“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,” Darren Moon, the English proprietor of Vapshop.fr told The Local previously.
“20 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,” he added, noting that his sales have seen “20 to 25 percent growth” every month.
Around half a million French people are estimated to use electronic cigarettes as a way of weaning themselves off traditional tobacco filled fags.
The device, which was first invented in China back in 2003 gives the user a similar sensation to smoking a cigarette.
The battery powered, pen-sized products contain liquid nicotine that is turned into a vapor which is then inhaled.
Their obvious health benefit as opposed to smoking is that they don't contain tobacco and other carcinogens found in cigarettes.
However, health experts have expressed concerns about certain chemicals contained in the liquid, most notably the compound propylene glycol.
The French consumer association ‘60 million Consumers’ has warned in a report that electronic cigarettes are “not as safe” as their manufacturers make them out to be and could even be “potentially carcinogenic”.
“Findings such as these should always be compared to [the risks] of smoking ordinary cigarettes,” Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos, a cardiology researcher at University Hospital Gathuisberg in Belgium told The Local.