Italy reverses ban on e-cigs in public places

A change in Italian law could soon see people "lighting up" their electronic cigarettes in public places such as bars, restaurants and cinemas.

Italy reverses ban on e-cigs in public places
Both electronic and tobacco cigarettes had been banned from public places. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images North America/AFP

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.

READ MORE: 'E-cigarettes could save 30,000 Italian lives a year'

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