An electronic cigarette company which has a store in St Erth say it backs new government legislation to ban under 18s from purchasing its products.
Liberty Flights, one of the leading e-cigarette manufacturers in the UK, said it welcomed the amendment to the Children and Families Bill to make it illegal to sell to youngsters under the age of 18, as well as making it illegal for adults to purchase products on their behalf.
Matthew Moden, a director at Liberty Flights, said: “As company policy we have never sold to under 18s. We welcome [the legislation]. It’s bizarre that adults can’t buy cigarettes for under 18s but children can smoke them at 16.”
An e-cigarette is a battery operated device which contains liquid, including nicotine, which is heated to a vapour.
Liberty Flights said e-cigarettes aim to deliver an authentic nicotine experience without the dangers of a conventional cigarette and with 1.5m sales in the last year the company is expanding with more than 15 stores.
Mr Moden added that it was slightly hypocritical for the government to focus on e-cigarettes, which he said are “1,000 times healthier”, than a conventional cigarette, when better regulations could be made in the tobacco industry.
“I think there’s a lot of scaremongering. In a harm reduction debate this is much safer and healthier than smoking a cigarette,” said Mr Moden.
He denied that the range of flavours his shop supplies, such as strawberry and bubblegum, would attract children to using the product.
“We don’t encourage people to take up a nicotine habit when they don’t have one. But it’s much safer than a cigarette. It’s an exit from smoking not a gateway.”
Mr Moden said the company has a very strict control process about what is added to the e-cigarette liquid and said the company continues to work closely with trading standards.
Smokefree South West, a body created to reduce smoking rates in the county, are concerned that e-cigarettes could lead to an addiction to nicotine.
Fiona Andrews, director of Smokefree South West, said: "The market for these products is growing rapidly, supported by advertising and promotion. Regulated e-cigs are likely to be less harmful than smoked tobacco because they avoid the damaging cocktail of chemicals in smoke. However, we still don’t want young people in the South West to get addicted to nicotine."