Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said the government will “soon present a new national plan against smoking which will notably ban disposable e-cigarettes, so-called ‘puffs’ which give bad habits to young people”, in an interview on Sunday with RTL radio.
She said smoking is on the rise in France, leading to the deaths of 75,000 people every year.
The government has ruled out tax increases on cigarettes in 2024 but hopes that in banning disposable cigarettes fewer people will take up the dangerous habit.
“One can say this is not nicotine, but it’s a reflex which young people get used to,” Ms Borne said. “That’s how they start smoking, so I think we need to put an end to that.”
Other countries are considering banning vaping products.
The US Food and Drug Administration, which regulates tobacco and vape products, has said it is taking action to tackle the rise of flavoured, disposable e-cigarettes.
Recent research suggested people should be banned from buying tobacco products until they are 22, after a study found those who start smoking before the age of 20 find it more difficult to quit.
The team from Japan looked at 1,382 smokers who had visited a smoking cessation clinic in Kyoto.
Patients were split into two groups based on the age they started smoking – less than 20 years old or 20 years and older.
About 556 smokers had started before the age of 20 – the legal age in Japan – while 826 had started later.
Those who took up the habit before 20 reported smoking 25 cigarettes a day compared to 22 a day in the late-starter group.
Those who started earlier also had higher respiratory carbon monoxide levels in the breath – suggesting they had smoked more cigarettes in the past 24 hours.
Of the early starters, 46 per cent had successfully quit smoking, compared to 56 per cent of those who started smoking at aged 20 or over.
Author Dr Koji Hasegawa, of the National Hospital Organisation Kyoto Medical Centre, said: “Our results show that starting smoking early is linked with higher nicotine dependency, even in young adulthood.
“The study indicates that increasing the legal age to buy tobacco to 22 years or older could lead to a reduction in the number of people addicted to nicotine and at risk of adverse health consequences.”
Another recent study found that boys who smoke in their early teenagers risk passing on damaged genes to their children, leading to greater chances of them developing asthma, obesity and lung problems.
In France, about a quarter of the population smoke on a daily basis, making it one of the highest rates in the western world. The legal smoking age is 18.
In the UK, one must also be over 18 to buy cigarettes. The minimum age was increased from 16 in 2007.
It is estimated that 13.3 per cent of adults over the age of 18 – 6.6 million people – smoked in the UK as of 2021.
According to NHS England, smoking causes about 76,000 deaths per year, with many more living with debilitating conditions caused by the habit.
In 2019, the government unveiled its ambition to make England “smoke free” by 2030, meaning only 5 per cent of the population will smoke.