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France to Ban Using Electronic Cigarette in Public Places

Update Date: May 31, 2013 01:58 PM EDT

While health experts are still researching how electronic cigarettes can affect health, France has decided to jump the gun and ban the use of the electronic device in public places.

France's Health Minister Marisol Touraine said Friday that electronic cigarettes will face the same bans as traditional cigarettes since 2007, according to Reuters.

In a statement, Touraine said that e-cigarettes would be banned in "no-go zones," like cafes, bars, trains, waiting rooms and offices.

Electronic cigarettes are battery-driven devices that allow users to inhale near odorless nicotine-laced vapor rather than smoke.

A government-commissioned report released last week revealed that around 500,000 people in France currently use the electronic cigarettes as an alternative to smoking.  

However, experts worldwide warned that the health effects of e-cigarettes still needs further investigation. According to the Discovery Fit & Health, the researchers are worried about the side effects of inhaling pure nicotine.  Experts are also worried about how secondhand vapor might affect pubic health.  Some people, particularly those with health conditions, have reported that the vapor emitted from e-cigarettes affects their breathing and makes them nauseous.

A March study conducted at the University of California revealed that e-cigarettes contain silver, iron, aluminum, silicate, tin, chromium and nickel, according to The Guardian.  Scientists found that the concentration of these elements "were higher than or equal to the corresponding concentrations in conventional cigarette smoke", and that "many of the elements identified in [e-cigarette] aerosol are known to cause respiratory distress and disease."

Other studies concentrated on the social effects of introducing electronic cigarettes to a new audience.  A study published March in the Journal of Adolescent Health found many e-cigarette advertisement campaigns that disproportionately appeal to the younger market, including "celebrity endorsements, trendy/fashionable imagery, and fruit, candy, and alcohol flavors".

Touraine said she also worries that electronic cigarettes will increase the general temptation to smoke by tempting former smokers to pick up the habit again.

"This is no ordinary product because it encourages mimicking and could promote taking up smoking," Touraine said at a news conference, according to Reuters.

The U.S. has also seen a boon in the number of people who use electronic cigarettes. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of smokers who have tried electronic cigarettes doubled in 2011 to 20 percent. Furthermore, the number of all adults, smokers or not, trying the cigarette alternative also doubled to 6 percent. 

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