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France outlaws single-use e-cigarettes

By EARLE GALE in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-12-07 09:39


France has banned single-use disposable e-cigarettes, in a move aimed at both reducing garbage and discouraging young people from starting a habit that could end in them smoking traditional cigarettes.

The prohibition was approved by a vote of 104 to zero in the nation's National Assembly this week and will be discussed in the Parliament's second chamber, the senate, and need approval from the European Union before it can come into force. Experts say, despite the long regulatory process, the ban could be in place by September. It only applies to e-cigarettes that cannot be refilled.

Discarded battery-powered disposable e-cigarettes, known as puffs in France, have become an increasingly common sight in recent years and lawmakers said they acted because the plastic devices, which contain non-removable batteries and traces of heavy metals, are damaging the environment.

Earlier this year, a group of doctors and environmentalists wrote in the French newspaper Le Monde puffs had become "an environmental plague". Health Minister Aurelien Rousseau has called them an "environmental calamity". The BBC said around 1 million of the devices are thought to be discarded in the UK every week, with most ending up in landfills.

Several lawmakers also spoke this week about wanting to outlaw the devices because of their popularity among young people and their role as a gateway device that ends in many people becoming addicted to nicotine.

Francesca Pasquini, the lawmaker who submitted the draft law in November 2022, said disposable e-cigarettes were encouraging young people to start bad habits.

"They're ridiculously cheap, the fruity and sugary flavors are attractive, and their small size makes them easy to hide from parents," the Agence France-Presse news agency quoted her as saying.

While disposable e-cigarettes can be nicotine-free, many are not and the UK's National Health Service has reported that a standard device delivers a similar amount of harmful and addictive nicotine as 20 traditional cigarettes.

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, who championed the ban, said it was part of the French government's aim to crack down on smoking, which will culminate in the unveiling of a plan that is being developed.

Critics say puffs are especially attractive to young people because, in addition to offering flavors that are reminiscent of those found in candy stores, they are often attractive and brightly colored.

Campaign group the Alliance Against Tobacco has estimated 15 percent of people aged 13 to 16 in France have tried puffs at least once.

France's ban on puffs follows restrictions on their use in Australia and New Zealand, which include a requirement for them to have low nicotine levels and not be sold near schools.

Germany, Ireland, and the United Kingdom are also known to be considering bans.

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