[January 27, 2014]LONDON
(Reuters) — Britain
said on Sunday it would ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to
children under age 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 vaporizing 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.
The global market for e-cigarettes was estimated at more than $2
billion last year by market consultant Euromonitor.
Under-18s are already banned from buying conventional cigarettes in
Britain. Sunday's 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 criticized the government for not acting
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
toward 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 medical devices.
(Reporting by William James; editing by