The UK government announced on Wednesday that it was conducting a consultation on draft regulations that would prohibit the sale of electronic cigarettes to those less than 18 years of age.
The regulations would make it an offence also for an adult to buy electronic cigarettes for a person younger than 18.
They would apply to ‘nicotine inhaling devices’, which are taken to include electronic cigarettes, nicotine refill cartridges and nicotine liquids.
Products that are licensed as medicines by the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency) are not included.
Public Health Minister Jane Ellison said that while the government recognized the role that electronic cigarettes could play in helping adult smokers quit, it wanted to protect young people and children from the harmful effects of addiction to nicotine, which most electronic cigarettes delivered.
There was a risk that electronic cigarettes could be appealing to children as use and awareness of these products increased.
The new regulations, which would bring electronic cigarettes into line with other age-restricted products such as tobacco and alcohol, were supported by responsible electronic cigarette manufacturers and retailers.
Electronic cigarette manufacturers, retailers and public health professionals had called for a minimum age of sale to be introduced, the minister said.