Their use has boomed in the USA, where smokers of electronic cigarettes doubled in 2011, but now the French are going to ban them in all public places, just like the real thing.
Traditional cigarettes were banned in public places in 2007. Now with an estimated half a million French users, worries have not abated that the electronic cigarette is as, or more dangerous, as one that uses tobacco.
“It can be a good tool for smokers to give up smoking, but for those who don’t smoke it could be a way to start so we need the same rules which are applied to tobacco for the electronic cigrettes,” said French Health Minister Marisol Touraine.
Not enough is yet known about the effects of inhaling a pure nicotine aerosol. Some have complained of secondary pollution from the vapour making them ill, others about the way they are marketed to the young.
“Well, I think that his ban is very strict because the aim of electronic cigarette today, according to me and many of the people in the sector, is to make sure that people smoke less and less tobacco and that it is much less harmful to their health,” says electronic cigarette retailer Emmanuel Clari.
A March University of California study found a number of metals were as or more concentrated in the vapour than in tobacco smoke.