Just days after France’s Health and Prevention Minister Aurélien Rousseau announced a ban on smoking on all beaches, public parks, forests and areas surrounding schools, the French parliament has backed a proposal to ban single-use electronic cigarettes. The ‘puffs’, as they are called locally, are said to encourage smoking amongst teenagers and to present a threat to the environment. The parliament hopes the law will come into effect by September 2024, even though there are still a few steps to be taken in order for the law to be accepted.
The national assembly may have voted unanimously in favour of the law last week, the issue still needs the approval of France’s upper house senate and a clearance from the EU Commission before it comes into effect.
“They open a pathway to serious addiction”, Aurélien Rousseau said about the puffs.
The disposable e-cigarettes, which cost around 9 euros and come in a variety of flavours and cheerful colours, are often said to be specifically targeted at teenagers. Despite the low price (especially compared to the price of a pack of cigarettes in France), the puffs should contain about 600 puffs, or the equivalent of around 40 cigarettes.
“They’re ridiculously cheap, the fruity and sugary flavours are attractive, and their small size makes them easy to hide from parents,” deputy Francesca Pasquini, who submitted the draft law last year, explained.
According to numbers from the French Alliance Contre le Tabac, about 15% of French teenagers between the ages of 13 and 16 have tried the disposable e-cigarettes at least once in their lives. Only re-usable cigarettes score higher (16%) and normal cigarettes come in at a tie (15%). And even though it’s illegal to sell them to minors, 9% of teenagers between the ages of 13 and 16 have already purchased a puff themselves.
On an environmental level, puffs represent a real threat too. A group of doctors said “it’s an environmental plague” earlier this year in the French newspaper Le Monde. Aside from plastic, they explained the puffs contain a non-removable battery with around 0.15g of lithium, traces of nicotine salts and heavy metals. Therefore, when they are thrown out, they are virtually non-recyclable.