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French report calls for indoor ban on e-cigarettes

Video by FRANCE 2 , Solange MOUGIN

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-05-28

A health report commissioned by the French government has recommended that electronic cigarettes should not be banned, but the product and its distribution should be regulated in much the same way as normal cigarettes.

When it comes to smoking, nobody does it quite like the French.

They are so famous for it, there is even a smoking style named the “French inhale” so everyone can smoke comme ça.

However, since a 2008 smoking ban, the French of course have not been able to brandish their beloved Gauloises in smoky cafés as they did in the old films.

But in recent years, a growing number of Frenchmen and women – an estimated 500,000, according to French authorities – succeeded in coping with the ban by using electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes.

Panel of experts

The battery powered, pen-size product started becoming so ubiquitous, that French Health Minister Marisol Touraine ordered an investigation into the possible risks of e-cigarettes earlier this year.

On Tuesday, a panel of experts published the report which recommended that electronic cigarettes should not be banned, but the product and its distribution should be regulated.

While the panel called for more comprehensive studies on the possible risks of e-cigarettes, the team nevertheless recommended that smokers’ access to e-cigarettes should not be hampered "because given the current data they appear to reduce damage when replacing the cigarette."

The report also stated, “Even if the knowledge on these products is advancing rapidly, there still are many points of uncertainty.” It added, “We cannot wait for established scientific data to start proposing recommendations” for the use of e-cigarettes.

‘Vaping’ – not smoking

The report, comprised of 28 recommendations, however noted that e-cigarettes should be banned in all places where traditional cigarettes are prohibited, ie, in places of work.
The panel of experts also recommended a ban on the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, as is the case for all tobacco products. The rules that apply to advertising tobacco products should also be extended to e-cigarettes, according to the report.

The e-cigarette was invented in China in 2005 and was designed to give the user a sensation similar to smoking. The devices contain liquid nicotine that is turned into a vapor, which is then inhaled, leading some e-cigarette users to maintain they are “vaping” – not smoking.

The e-cigarettes’ obvious health benefit - as opposed to smoking - is that they don't contain tobacco as well as other harmful chemicals found in cigarettes while delivering nicotine.

But across the world, there are mounting concerns that the new devices could pose health hazards that have not, as yet, been identified or studied.

For now though, the message to Frenchmen and women is clear: if it’s too difficult to abandon those Gauloises, try replacing them with an e-cigarette. Just don’t “vape” them inside offices, restaurants and cafés – and certainly don’t pass them on to the kids.

Date created : 2013-05-28

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