Upcoming “puff” ban: 4 questions to better understand the issues

Upcoming “puff” ban: 4 questions to better understand the issues

In an RTL interview on Sunday September 3, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne announced that the disposable electronic cigarette, popular among teenagers, would soon be banned in Europe. Find out the main reasons for such a decision.

Goodbye puff? The disposable electronic cigarette with various flavors very popular with young audiences has known in recent days in Europe. In an interview granted to RTL on Sunday 3 September, Elisabeth Borne, Prime Minister, announced this decision as being part of the new national tobacco control plan present “shortly” by the government. A decision that would follow those already taken in Central Europe, Belgium or Ireland, already mentioned last May by the former Minister of Health, François Braun.

The Puffs, what are we talking about?

Puffs are disposable electronic cigarettes, for single use, with a sour or fruity taste and a colorful design.

Coming straight from the United States, this fashion for small colored tubes that we inhale arrived in Europe at the end of 2021.

Sold between eight and 12 euros at tobacconists, on websites or in supermarkets, they offer a wide range of flavors (strawberry ice cream, sparkling cola or other bubble gum), and offer a certain number of puffs for a rate of nicotine between 0 and 20 mg/ml.

Who are these e-cigarettes targeting?

With its sweet or fruity flavors (apple, chocolate, marshmallow…), its colorful packaging, and its modest price of 8 to 12 euros for 500 puffs, the puff mainly targets teenagers.

Promoted in particular on social networks like Tiktok, these e-cigarettes are especially popular with young people.

The tobacconists ensure that they are doubling their vigilance so that adolescents do not have access to them since, legally, their sale is prohibited to minors, but they represent for some of them a strong activity.

If tobacco consumption is less and less common among young people, the use of electronic cigarettes is increasing: at 17 years old, it is even increasing very clearly between 2017 and 2022 since experimentation has increased from 52.4% to 56.9% and daily use has tripled, rising from 1.9% to 6.2%, according to the latest survey published in March by the French Observatory of Drugs and Addictive Trends.

In July 2022, 13% of adolescents aged 13-16 had already tried the puff and 28% of e-cigarette users had started with the puff, according to a survey carried out for the Alliance contre le tabac association.

What are the health risks?

At the beginning of May, François Braun, then Minister of Health, said he was in favor of a ban on puffs, which “lead a young part of our population to smoking“. The puffs allow you to vape with a low nicotine level between 0 and 20 mg/ml.

We can be told that it is not nicotine. But it’s a reflex, a gesture that young people get used to. Then that’s how they go to smoking and we have to stop it“, Pleaded Sunday the Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne.

Alliance Against Tobacco, which has wanted to position itself as a whistleblower on the subject since 2022, warned of a possible “pediatric epidemic of nicotine addiction”.

Last February, the National Academy of Medicine mentioned a “a particularly insidious trap set for children and adolescents with a view to leading them into an addiction to tobacco products“.

Nicotine, which most puff devices contain, is a highly addictive substance, recalls the Ministry of Health on its site. Young people are particularly vulnerable, due to the effects of nicotine on brain development.

Several European countries such as Central Europe, Belgium and Ireland have already started a ban movement.

What is the environmental impact?

Puffs are not only a health risk but also an environmental issue. Disposable, single-use, the puffs are indeed made of plastic and contain a non-recyclable lithium battery. “In the UK, every week 1.3 million puffs end up in the trash“, lamented the Nupes MP Francesca Pasquini recently.

It is a toxic waste which is added to the 4.500 billion cigarette butts discarded annually in the world.

In short, so many good reasons to do without.

No increase in the price of the pack of cigarettes

On the other hand, cigarette smokers should not see an increase in the price of their pack in 2024. “We increased it this year and we do not plan to increase it next year”, continued Elisabeth Borne, as the government finalizes its 2024 budgets. “That does not mean that we are not very vigilant about tobacco consumption”, she nevertheless specified, recalling that tobacco is the cause of “75,000 deaths per year”.