Supporters of the cigarettes claim that they help people who find it impossible to give up conventional cigarettes but others believe they are just as harmful in terms of passive smoking. The mayor of Saint Lo certainly thinks so.
FranÃ§ois Digard has decided that he will not wait for a ban that could come in for the whole of the country next year and has already outlawed electronic cigarettes from all council owned buildings such as libraries and the town hall after receiving complaints from members of the public.
He has signed a bylaw outlawing the devices. â€˜E-cigarettes emit an odour and some smoke that can really bother some people. It is not a witch hunt against smokers, but about accommodating the needs of everyone,â€™ he said.
He added that the current law on smoking in public places is now out of date as it does not affect those using the electronic cigarettes.
Indeed, a new law banning electronic cigarettes is due to be brought in by Franceâ€™s Health Minister Marisol Touraine next year that will ban their use in all public spaces, including cafes and restaurants.
A number of shops have been opening all over Normandy selling electronic cigarettes including in Saint Lo, Caen, Le Havre and Rouen. It is currently estimated that around 1.5 million people use these kind of cigarettes.
An electronic cigarette works by vaporising a liquid solution containing nicotine and other flavours and are designed to simulate ordinary cigarettes but just how sage they are from a health point of view is still a matter of some debate.
Some health professionals believe that they can help heavy smokers wean themselves off cigarettes and as they donâ€™t contain tar they are less harmful to the lungs.
However, the latest study suggests they may be doing more harm than good. A team of researchers from the University of California in the United States found that youngsters who tried e-cigarettes to quit smoking were smoking more nicotine and were not able to fully quit smoking.
â€˜We are witnessing the beginning of a new phase of the nicotine epidemic and a new route to nicotine addiction for kids,â€™ said senior author Dr Stanton Glantz.
The researchers analysed the prevalence of smoking among 75,600 young people in Korea and the results showed that the device was unsuccessful in helping to quit smoking. The authors found that a significant number of teenagers in the study, four out of five, were smoking both traditional and electronic cigarettes.
â€˜Some Korean adolescents may be responding to advertising claims that e-cigarettes are a cessation aid. Those who had made an attempt to quit were more likely to use e-cigarettes but less likely to no longer use cigarettes. E-cigarette use was strongly associated with current and heavier cigarette smoking,â€™ explained Glantz.
Glantz also raised concerns about the popularity of e-cigarettes among the young generation across the world and slammed lack of proper regulation on the marketing and sale of the product based on age.