E-cigarettes should be banned in public places because they “normalise” smoking, a leading medic has said.
Surgeon Ram Moorthy called for so-called “vaping” to be banned in the same places that smoking is prohibited.
Mr Moorthy, deputy chair of the British Medical Association board of science, is due to present a motion to the union’s annual representative meeting calling for the restriction.
“E-cigarettes could be a portal into nicotine addiction and we should look to ban them in public places,” he said.
“The concern is that we know among adolescents there is a huge awareness of e-cigarettes and we know that from cigarette smoking that smokers pick it up before the age of 18.
“E-cigarettes are currently being marketed through celebrity endorsement and we have seen the raft of flavours that are out there.
“On one hand they say these are very much for smokers, but your traditional 40-year-old male smoker is not going to go out and buy a pink candy flavoured e-cigarette. The flavours are very much geared at younger users.
“We have had a huge culture shift in the social acceptability of smoking since the ban in public places. The difficulty with e-cigarettes is the majority of devices mimic cigarettes and therefore it potentially normalises smoking.”
Recent research suggested as many as 30 million people across Europe have tried e-cigarettes.
And a separate study found that by January this year, there were 466 brands of e-cigarettes available online through English language websites.
The researchers also found 7,764 “unique flavours” on these sites.
Meanwhile, another doctors’ body has backed the use of the products.
The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) issued new statements on its stance on e-cigarettes.
The professional body said: “The RCP recognises that electronic cigarettes and other novel nicotine devices can provide an effective, affordable and readily available retail alternative to conventional cigarettes.
“These innovations could make harm reduction a reality for smokers. The RCP also recognises that these new products present potential risks as well as opportunities for individual and population health, and therefore advocates proportionate regulation to maximise the overall public health benefit.”