Health Ministry Bans Electronic Cigarettes

The Health Ministry has banned electronic cigarettes, including those previously brought into the country as well as future imports.

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Hana Levi Julian and Avraham Zuroff,

E-cigarettes, one of many types
E-cigarettes, one of many types
Israel news photo: (illustrative)

The Health Ministry has banned electronic cigarettes, both the import and use of those previously brought into the country. The product is marketed as an aid to help smokers stop smoking.

The move comes in the wake of a health warning by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about the product. The FDA did not ban their sale or use, however.

The Israeli Health Ministry decision, which came out Tuesday, covers both the import and sale of the product, including those that are marketed as nicotine-free.

E-cigarettes were previously approved the by ministry as medical devices to help people stop smoking. However, the ministry told importers to submit documentation proving the devices were safe for public use. The documentation required was to include an expert opinion from an Israeli toxicologist stating that all components of the product were safe to inhale and smoke.

U.S. research has found that the products are not safe at all.

The FDA issued its own warning after a research study examining 19 cigarettes found that half contained nitrosamines -- cancer-causing agents found in conventional cigarettes.

In addition, many also contained diethylene glycol, a poison found in the antifreeze liquid used in vehicles.

Some of the cigarettes that claimed not to contain any nicotine actually contained low levels of the addictive substance as well.

Most of the e-cigarettes, which came out on the market in 2004, are produced in China. They are sold all over the world, in various flavors, with and allegedly without nicotine.

The electronic cigarettes are battery-operated. Like regular cigarettes, smokers must inhale to enjoy their contents, and many include a burning chamber which resembles the taste of tobacco. In contrast to conventional cigarettes, the electronic cigarettes smoke without the odor that often disturbs non-smokers.