Italy bans minors from buying electronic cigarettes

ROME (AFP) - Italy on Tuesday announced plans to raise the legal limit for buying electronic cigarettes to 18 years from a previous 16, citing the high dose of nicotine inhaled when using the smokeless product.

The new rules will go into effect on April 23 and follow a study ordered by the health ministry which found that the level of nicotine consumed - even through moderate use - of so-called e-cigarettes exceeds the recommended level established by the European Food Safety Authority.

The decision comes as the product, used by many trying to kick their smoking habit, have seen increasing popularity across Italy, with an increasing number of outlets popping up dedicated to pushing it onto the market.

Although the ban for minors to buy the smoke-free inhalator is so far only scheduled to run until Oct 31, there is a possibility it will be extended as more studies are made to investigate the effects of it.

Earlier this month, France's Health Minister Marisol Touraine said she had ordered a study looking into the consequences of using the product.

E-cigarettes first emerged in China in 2003 as an alternative to tobacco, which kills nearly six million people each year. It is an electronic inhaler that simulates the act of smoking by producing mist and with the tip of it lighting up.

Several countries, including Colombia, Panama and Uruguay, have banned the smokeless e-cigarettes, with lawmakers insisting there was no proof they helped smokers kick their addiction.

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