France sets out plan to ban disposable vapes
France is set to ban disposable e-cigarettes - known locally as "puffs" - because of the danger they pose to the environment and public health. Speaking recently on RTL radio, Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne said the measure was part of a new anti-smoking plan.
Several other countries in Europe, including Germany, Belgium and Ireland, have announced similar bans. The UK is also said to be considering one.
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.
But France's National Academy of Medicine described them as a "particularly sly trap for children and adolescents".
According to Élisabeth Borne, "they create a reflex, a gesture, which children get used to, and then end up being drawn to tobacco".
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), 13% of 13-16-year-olds have tried "puffs" at least once. Most say they started around the ages of 11 or 12.
"[The ban] is a great victory for civil society. These disposable e-cigarettes are acting as a gateway to smoking for young people," says ACT president Loïc Josseran.
"It's become an epidemic. It is terrible how the tobacco industry has set out to hook children."
Sam, a 16-year-old Paris schoolboy, said he began smoking disposable e-cigarettes two years ago, shortly after they first appeared in France.
"They were talking about it a lot on TikTok. It was like a trend. And I thought, yeah why not?
"They're colourful, and in my head they are not as dangerous as tobacco. My favourites are iced grape and apricot. I guess if the ban goes ahead, I will start buying regular vapes."
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