France is ready to outlaw disposable e-cigarettes, commonly known as “puffs.” Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne made this announcement as part of an anti-smoking initiative.

The ban is expected to come into effect by the end of the year, a development championed by environmental and health advocacy groups. France joins the ranks of countries like New Zealand, Germany, Belgium, and Ireland, which have already declared similar bans, while the United Kingdom contemplates following suit.

Disposable vapes in France have been readily available over the counter at tobacconists, priced at approximately €9 per unit, undercutting the cost of a pack of 20 traditional cigarettes. These disposable devices, touted to provide around 600 puffs, are equivalent to smoking 40 cigarettes. Therefore it has drawn scrutiny from France’s National Academy of Medicine. The academy has condemned them as a “particularly sly trap for children and adolescents.”

Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne suggests that disposable e-cigarettes create a dangerous habit and attraction to tobacco among young individuals. Campaigners further accuse manufacturers, a significant number of whom are based in China, of intentionally targeting teenagers. They allege that these companies employ colourful packaging and offer an array of enticing sweet flavours such as marshmallow, chocolate, hazelnut, watermelon, and ice candy to lure in younger consumers.

As France gears up to implement its ban on disposable e-cigarettes, new data from the Alliance Against Tobacco (ACT) underscores the urgency of this move. Their research reveals that 13% of 13-16-year-olds in France have experimented with these “puffs” at least once, with some starting as early as 11 or 12 years old.

ACT President Loïc Josseran sees the impending ban as a significant victory for civil society. He views disposable e-cigarettes as a perilous gateway to traditional smoking among young individuals. Josseran is not alone in his concerns. He highlights the alarming epidemic of young people being drawn into vaping and tobacco use and criticizes the tobacco industry for intentionally targeting and ensnaring children in their web of addiction.

While regulations theoretically prohibit individuals under 18 from purchasing disposable e-cigarettes, reports suggest that enforcement has been lax. Restrictions are often too easy to slip by. The Alliance Against Tobacco (ACT) further highlights that tobacconists frequently fail to request age verification, allowing access to these products for underage users.

Beyond the public health risks, campaigners emphasise the significant ecological toll of disposable e-cigarettes. In the UK, a study conducted by the environmental organisation Material Focus last year revealed that over one million disposable e-cigarette devices were discarded weekly, exacerbating environmental issues.