Rome: The Italian health ministry`s top advisory body has recommended a ban on the smoking of electronic cigarettes in public places and their sale to pregnant women and minors.
The recommendation by the ministry`s Superior Health Council came after France`s Health Minister Marisol Touraine said she was planning simiar restrictions.
"Smoking an e-cigarette is smoking," she stated.
E-cigarettes contain an electronic inhaler that vaporises a liquid solution into an aerosol mist, simulating the act of tobacco smoking, and are marketed as a tool to help smokers quit tobacco.
Although the devices are considered safer than smoking, doctors continue to debate the possible impact of some of the vapours` ingredients - including propylene glycol, which irritates airways, and formaldehyde, which is known to raise lung and nasal cancer risk.
Doctors argue that more research is needed on e-cigarettes and their opponents also claim there is evidence they encourage children who have tried them to "graduate" to smoking real cigarettes.
Several countries have already outlawed e-cigarettes including Turkey, Brazil, Argentina and Singapore.