Spanish health officials eye restrictions on e-cigarettes

Dec. 18, 2013 at 11:11 AM
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MADRID, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- Spain's top health official says she wants e-cigarettes to face the same restrictions as regular tobacco products.

The restrictions would prohibit use of the popular "smokeless" nicotine inhalation devices in enclosed spaces such as offices, restaurants and schools, TheLocal.es reported Wednesday.

Health Minister Ana Mato recently said during a television interview that "electronic cigarettes are an issue we have to regulate."

"Some people treat them like a medicine [to give up smoking], for others they are a consumer product, and for others they are tobacco product, but we have to find a balance," she added.

Mato was scheduled to meet Wednesday with European Union officials in hopes of coming to an agreement that would allow member nations to set their own rules about e-cigarettes.

Friday Mato is to meet with Spanish regional authorities about proposals for new legislation regulating the e-cigarette industry, which Euromonitor estimated had revenue of more than $2 billion in 2012.

Health officials in the Catalan region of Spain said they didn't want e-cigarettes to become "a gateway to smoking" that could set back years of anti-smoking campaigns.

A 2012 estimate by Spanish health officials said about 32 percent of Spanish men and 23 percent of Spanish women smoked.

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