France is preparing to implement a ban on disposable e-cigarettes, locally known as “puffs,” due to concerns about their impact on the environment and public health. Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne recently announced this measure as part of a broader anti-smoking plan under development by the government. The ban is expected to take effect by the end of the year, following the lead of several other European countries, including Germany, Belgium, and Ireland, with the UK also reportedly considering a similar ban.
Disposable vapes are sold over the counter by tobacconists in France and typically cost around €9, which is less expensive than a pack of 20 cigarettes. They are designed to provide approximately 600 puffs, roughly equivalent to 40 cigarettes. However, France’s National Academy of Medicine has characterised them as a “particularly sly trap for children and adolescents.”
Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne expressed concerns that disposable e-cigarettes create a habit among children, eventually leading them to tobacco use. Campaigners argue that manufacturers, many of which are based in China, intentionally target teenagers by using colourful designs and a variety of sweet-like flavours such as marshmallow, chocolate, watermelon, and more.
According to the Alliance Against Tobacco (ACT), 13% of 13–16-year-olds in France have tried disposable e-cigarettes, with most starting at ages 11 or 12. ACT President Loc Josseran views the ban as a significant victory for civil society, asserting that these disposable devices serve as a gateway to smoking for young people and characterising it as an epidemic driven by the tobacco industry’s efforts to entice children.
The ban also addresses ecological concerns related to disposable e-cigarettes. These devices contribute to environmental pollution, as a UK study revealed that over one million disposable e-cigarettes were discarded weekly. French doctors and environmentalists have described the issue as an “environmental plague.” Each disposable e-cigarette contains plastic components, a non-removable battery with lithium content, nicotine salts, and traces of heavy metals.
In summary, France’s forthcoming ban on disposable e-cigarettes aims to tackle both public health risks, particularly among youth, and environmental damage caused by the widespread use and disposal of these devices.