Britain said it would ban the sale of electronic
cigarettes to children under 18, citing possible adverse health
effects and outlining a need for further medical research.
E-cigarettes, which are puffed like a regular cigarette but deliver nicotine
by vaporising liquid rather than burning
tobacco, have grown in popularity and some analysts predict the market
could outpace conventional cigarettes
within a decade.
"We do not yet know the harm that e-cigarettes can cause to adults let
alone to children, but we do know they are not risk- free," England's
Chief Medical Officer Sally Davies said in a statement.
She added that e-cigarettes can produce toxic chemicals and that variations
in the strength of the nicotine solutions between different products meant they
could end up being "extremely damaging" to young people's health.
Read: E-cigarettes contain toxic chemicals
The global market for e-cigarettes was estimated at more than $2 billion
last year by market consultant Euromonitor.
More research needed
Under-18s are already banned from buying conventional cigarettes in Britain.
The announcement included plans to make it illegal for adults to buy regular
cigarettes for consumption by under 18s.
The changes will be written into a bill already on its way through
parliament and are expected to have cross-party support, although the
opposition Labour party criticised the government for not acting more quickly.
The battery-powered metal tubes of e-cigarettes are seen as less harmful
than regular cigarettes and a useful way to wean smokers off their habits.
Critics, however say they can act as a gateway to nicotine
addiction and that more research is needed on the health implications.
Regulators in Europe and the United States have been debating policy towards
the industry. The European Union reached an agreement in December to allow
e-cigarettes to be sold as consumer products rather than more tightly regulated
about the e-cigarette
seduced by e-cigarettes
e-cigarettes may not be gateway to smoking