The French government may ban disposable electronic cigarettes popular in particular among teenagers by the end of this year, Health Minister Francois Braun said Wednesday.
“I’m in favour of a ban,” Braun told broadcaster France Inter, adding that the devices “lead some of our young people towards using tobacco”.
“Smoking is a scourge, it kills 75,000 people per year” in France, he said.
Although President Emmanuel Macron‘s government has no majority in parliament, ministers would “work with lawmakers” to reach a deal on a ban, Braun said.
It could be enacted “before the end of this year,” he added.
The ban may form part of a new anti-smoking plan the health ministry is working on for the coming five years.
Sweet and fruit-flavoured one-use electronic cigarettes — known as “puffs” in France — are sold in brightly coloured packaging at prices within reach of teenagers, at eight to 12 euros ($8.80-13.25) for 500 inhalations.
The roughly 20 brands selling the products in France are accused by critics of targeting adolescents despite existing rules barring sale of electronic cigarettes to minors.
Disposable devices are “increasingly popular on social media and have a mostly positive and harmless image among young people,” anti-smoking group ACT said late last year.
But the one-use cigarettes can contain up to 20 milligrammes per millilitre of highly addictive nicotine, making them a potential “on-ramp” to smoking, ACT added.