Brussels plan to stub out e-cigarettes is leaked
THEY have been hailed by some as a boon for smokers desperately trying to quit -- but now Europe has taken a step towards banning the sale of smoke free 'electronic' cigarettes.
A leaked report drafted by the European Commission seeks to overturn a vote by MEPs that rejected outlawing them in their present form.
If the ban goes ahead, it would override a review currently under way here by the Department of Health exploring the regulation of e-cigarettes.
Health Minister James Reilly had ordered the review and arising from his decision, the Irish Medicines Board would then decide whether or not to license the sale of the cigarette substitutes.
E-cigarettes are inhalers that vapourise liquid nicotine into an aerosol mist, simulating the act of tobacco smoking, but manufacturers claim they are safer because they do not contain cancer-causing tar.
However, officials in Brussels fear that there is a "risk that electronic cigarettes can develop into a gateway to normal cigarettes".
They also want to include the smoke-free alternative under a new EU "tobacco products directive" -- despite the fact they contain no tobacco, according to the report.
A town in northern France has become the first to impose a ban on electronic cigarettes in public buildings. Francois Digard, the mayor of Saint-Lo in the La Manche region of Normandy, passed a decree this month outlawing them. France, which has an estimated 1.5 million e-cigarette users, is mulling a ban but the mayor apparently decided to jump the gun after several non-smokers said they were unhappy about the devices being smoked in public libraries because of the nicotine vapours emitted.
As cigarette smoking has been increasingly stigmatised, the sale of electronic cigarettes has risen dramatically.
But the Irish Cancer Society has warned that it cannot recommend e-cigarettes until they are fully regulated, while government chief whip Paul Kehoe said the glamorous advertising of electronic cigarettes has become a "cause of concern".