E-cigarettes: France backs bill to ban disposable vapes
The French parliament has voted unanimously to ban single-use e-cigarettes, known locally as “puffs”, amid health and environmental concerns.
It still needs backing from France’s Senate and clearance from the EU Commission before it becomes law.
If both approve the bill, the government said it hopes the ban will be effective by September 2024.
Several other countries in Europe, including the UK, Ireland, and Germany are considering similar measures.
Sold over the counter by tobacconists, disposable vapes in France cost around €9 (£7.70) – less than a packet of 20 cigarettes. They are supposed to offer around 600 puffs – the rough equivalent of 40 cigarettes.
In September, Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne – who is often seen vaping in parliament – said the measure was part of a new anti-smoking plan being drawn up by the government.
“They’re ridiculously cheap, the fruity and sugary flavours are attractive, and their small size makes them easy to hide from parents,” said deputy Francesca Pasquini, who submitted the draft law in November last year.
Campaigners accuse manufacturers – many based in China – of deliberately targeting teenagers, using bright colours and a range of flavours reminiscent of the sweet shop, for example marshmallow, chocolate and hazelnut, watermelon, and ice candy.
According to the Alliance Against Tobacco (ACT) last month, 15% of French 13-16-year-olds have tried “puffs” at least once. Most say they started around the ages of 11 or 12.
There are also concerns about environmental problems caused by disposable e-cigarettes. In the UK, a study last year by the environmental organisation Material Focus found that more than one million devices were being thrown out every week.
Health Minister Aurélien Rousseau called e-cigarettes an “environmental calamity”.
“It’s an environmental plague,” a group of French doctors and environmentalists wrote in Le Monde newspaper earlier this year.
They said each disposable e-cigarette was made of plastic and contained a non-removable battery with around 0.15g of lithium, as well as nicotine salts and traces of heavy metals.
In terms of health concerns, vaping is considered better than smoking – but the vapour that is inhaled can still contain small amounts of chemicals that are found in cigarettes, including nicotine. Experts say it is still a little early to tell how harmful vaping is.