EC clampdown on electronic cigarettes

Anyone who thought it was okay to smoke an electronic cigarette in public must think again.
As of May 19, a new EC directive is banning the use of electronic cigarettes in public and relegating them to the same restrictions as their tobacco-filled counterparts.
The news follows years of controversy and growing doubts over the safety of so-called e-cigarettes for both users and those around them.
“We don’t know what kind of substances are emitted,” President of the Portuguese Pneumology Society Carlos Cordeiro told Correio da Manhã. “The use of electronic cigarettes in public places has to be prohibited and subject to the same restrictions as traditional tobacco.”
Cordeiro added that e-cigarettes “should be classified as a form of medication and controlled by the national medication authority”.
Health authorities are reported to be backing the plan, and countries have until 2016 to adopt or alter.
One plan, writes CM, is to allow the owners of public establishments to authorise (or not) the use of e-cigarettes on the premises.
According to CM, while traditional cigarettes produce tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide, the electronic variety involves a cocktail of substances which themselves can cause serious health problems.
In the US, the FDA (food and drugs authority) has received increasing voluntary reports of adverse effects which “include hospitalisation for illnesses such as pneumonia, congestive heart failure, disorientation, seizure, hypotension and other health problems”.
The electronic cigarette – invented in the early 60s – is designed to wean smokers off their habit, slowly but surely, with the least amount of side effects. Many people swear by them, but just as many have failed to kick their habits.
In Portugal, there has been only one case of ‘intoxication from liquid nicotine’ – one of the components of e-cigarettes – reports CM, but this hasn’t affected the medical authorities’ suspicions.
Meantime, in America various counties have already banned the use of e-cigarettes.