Lawmakers have decided to scrap a clause in legislation from June, which put e-cigarettes in the same category as tobacco and banned them from being smoked in public places, La Repubblica reported on Sunday.
The change opens the possibility for smokers of e-cigarettes to light up in bars, restaurants, cinemas and offices.
The news comes just days after a former health minister, Umberto Veronesi, said that if tobacco smokers switched to the electronic version, around 30,000 lives would be saved in Italy each year.
The decision to allow e-cigarettes to be smoked in public places was, however, criticized by Girolamo Sirchia, another former health minister, who was responsible for the original law banning smoking in public places. “It’s a bad measure…It certainly does not give an edifying image of a smoker, even if it’s for electronic cigarettes,” he told La Repubblica.
Giacomo Mangiaracina, a public health specialist at Rome’s Sapienza University, also spoke out against the decision. While an e-cigarette contains 20 times less nicotine than a traditional cigarette, he said that allowing the practice in public places would still expose people to a small dose of the drug.