The decision has thrown into confusion plans for tighter regulation of e- cigarettes in the UK. The Medicines and Healthcare Products regulatory Agency had wanted to make all e-cigarettes medicinal products by 2016 but that those plans might have to be altered.
European legislators have, though, approved some tighter restrictions on the sale of e-cigarettes.
What are e-cigarettes? Are they covered by the smoking ban? How might the law change in the future? Is there evidence they are safer than smoking tobacco?
Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are nicotine delivery devices marketed for smokers to use as a less harmful and cheaper alternative to smoking real cigarettes or as a way of getting a nicotine 'fix' when smoking is not permitted.
Their use has grown rapidly, with an estimated 1.3 million people using them in 2013.
Designs vary, with some looking and feeling like conventional cigarettes, but they do not contain tobacco and do not produce smoke.
E-cigarettes are easily bought in the UK, with a number of companies offering them over the internet.
How do they work?
An e-cigarette contains three components: a battery, an atomiser and a cartridge containing nicotine suspended in propylene glycol and water. When the user sucks on the e-cigarette, the liquid in the cartridge is heated so that some of it evaporates. This vapour delivers nicotine into the user's lungs.
There is no smoke, but some nicotine vapour is released into the surrounding air as the user exhales.
Some e-cigarettes have an indicator light at the end which glows when the user is inhaling to give an added touch of realism.
Are e-cigarettes regulated?
E-cigarettes are not covered by legislation banning smoking in public places.
It is legal to 'smoke' an e-cigarette in a public place because there is no burning and no smoke is emitted - only odourless vapour. However, they may still be subject to bans in some places. For example, the train operator ScotRail has banned staff and passengers from using e-cigarettes on its trains, stations or depots. The firm says one reason is their use may unsettle other passengers and make people think that smoking real cigarettes is allowed.
Currently, e-cigarettes are subject to general consumer protection Iaws.
The European Commission put forward a proposal to treat e-cigarettes as medicinal products - a move that would have restricted sales throughout all EU member countries. However, in October 2013 Euro MPs voted against the plan.
E-cigarettes will, though, be subject to some extra regulations. European legislators have decided that they should be subject to the same rules as medicinal products if manufacturers claim they have curative or preventive properties.
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