France Bids Adieu to Public E-Cigarette Smoking
E-cigs "encourage mimicking" and will now be regulated as strictly as regular cigarettes.
France was once considered a smokers' paradise, but these days, even electronic cigarettes are getting the red light. E-cigarette "smokers" will now face the same regulations enforced on tobacco smokers since 2007, including a ban in public places and an advertising blackout, Health Minister Marisol Touraine said at a news conference on Friday. The battery-driven devices—designed to look like regular cigarettes—deliver nicotine through an odorless vapor and are increasingly used as a smoking cessation tool. According to a government report released this week, there are now about 500,000 e-smokers in France, many of whom use the devices in smoke-free zones, such as bars, cafes, public transportation and offices.But health officials across the world say the devices may not be entirely safe, and their public health impact demands further study.The French report also claimed that e-cigarettes could increase the "general temptation to smoke," prompting non-smokers to either start smoking or return to the habit. "This is no ordinary product because it encourages mimicking and could promote taking up smoking," said Touraine. In the US, the number of smokers who have tried e-cigarettes doubled to one in five in 2011, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In France, tobacco smoking is responsible for about 66,000 deaths a year (out of a population of 66 million), and another 5,000 die from exposure to second-hand smoke. The expert behind the French report discouraged an outright ban on e-cigarettes, which are still considered healthier than the tar-laden alternative.