A new compliance committee set up by French health authorities will be tasked with reporting any suspected cases of intoxication by electronic cigarettes amid rising health concerns.
The committee made up of pulmonologists and anaesthetists will aim to report any suspected cases of intoxication by electronic cigarettes after pulmonary infections caused by vaping devices have raised concerns in the United States.
Up until now French health authorities saw e-cigarettes as a tool to help smokers quit regular cigarettes. A previous study by Sante Publique France, the French health agency, found that vaping had helped 700,000 people stop smoking classic cigarettes between 2010 and 2017.
But this stance could change amid growing health concerns around the devices.
In the United States, two states – Michigan and New York – have banned flavoured e-cigarettes to fight nicotine addiction among minors – the targeted group of many marketing campaigns.
The US is also dealing with a health scare after seven people died of a mysterious respiratory illness related to vaping and 400 others have been hospitalised with pulmonary infections. Many, but not all, cases have involved those who used the devices to vaporize oils containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of cannabis.
Previously, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that the trend of electronic cigarettes was becoming a real danger to public health. However, the long-term health effects of vaping are still largely unknown.
What are France's regulations for electronic cigarettes?
France’s set of regulations for electronic cigarettes seem to be helping the country stay clear of the health scare happening in the US.
The main difference between e-cigarettes sold in France and those sold in the US are that French ones contain a smaller dosage of nicotine, France's health ministry told The Local.
“European regulations, adopted in France, establish a maximum rate of nicotine quantity of 20mg/ml,” said a spokesperson, “while in the US, refill bottles sold on the market contain much higher nicotine levels.”
In France, certain additives, like vitamines, used in the production of American e-liquids are prohibited, they added.
Vaporising products go through strict controls in France since they all need to be registered with the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) before being sold on the market, the agency told The Local.
For a complete list of authorised products, click here.
Controls are also carried out by the Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF) for complete transparency on their composition, it said on their website.
French health laws prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes in schools, in closed work spaces, and on public transport.
But the use of e-cigarettes in restaurants and bars remains at the discretion of the establishment’s owner.
People who are found to be smoking e-cigarettes in prohibited spaces are subject to pay a fine of €35.
Advertising for e-cigarettes is prohibited in France, unlike the US where only marketing campaigns aimed at minors are prohibited.
In both countries, the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors is punishable by law.