Italy bans sale of electronic cigarettes to minors

ROME (AFP) - Italy banned the sale of electronic cigarettes containing nicotine to minors on Thursday and forbid their use in schools, amid criticism from a consumer watchdog that the move did not go far enough.

Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin "bans the sale of electronic cigarettes with nicotine to minors under the age of 18", her ministry said in a statement.

"We don't want to say that electronic cigarettes are more dangerous than normal cigarettes but they should not be used as harmless objects," Ms Lorenzin told Rai television.

"People need to be informed about what they use... water and aroma (capsules) are one thing, but nicotine can create dependencies," she added.

Italian consumer association Codacons criticised the new law as "utterly insufficient".

"E-cigarettes should be banned in all public places, just like normal cigarettes. It's not clear why the ministry believes they are dangerous, and therefore should be banned in schools, but not in other places open to the public," Codacons president Carlo Rienzi said.