“Electronic cigarettes are far from the harmless gadgets they’re sold as by manufacturers,” wrote monthly magazine “60 Million Consumers” following a study of some 10 reusable and disposable e-cigarette models.
“It’s not a reason to ban them, but to better control them,” said Thomas Laurenceau, chief editor of the magazine, which reports the findings of France’s national consumers’ institute (INC).
The INC has relayed its findings to the authorities, Laurenceau told AFP.
Laurenceau also criticised certain models for lacking safety caps because, he noted, the nicotine levels contained in the liquid content of electronic cigarettes could be lethal to children.
The study claims to have employed an innovative method in detecting “a significant quantity of carcinogenic molecules” in the vapour of the cigarettes which, according to Laurenceau, have thus far gone undetected.
“In three models out of ten, the levels of [carcinogenic compound] formaldehyde come close to those of a conventional cigarette,” he said.
The highly toxic molecule acrolein was also detected in the vapours of e-cigarettes, “sometimes at levels even higher than in traditional cigarettes,” Laurenceau said.
One million people use e-cigarettes in France, where smoking has been banned in public places since 2007.
In May 2013, French Health Minister Marisol Touraine announced that the ban on smoking in public places would now be extended to cover electronic cigarettes.
Some 73,000 people die from smoking-related illnesses in France each year.
Unlike other European countries, the number of smokers has remained constant in the country despite price hikes on tobacco products and health-awareness campaigns.