Enthusiast Damien Hoops uses an electronic cigarette at The Vapor Spot vapor bar in Los Angeles, California March 4, 2014. Reuters/Mario Anzuoni

E-cigarettes will be treated as tobacco in Victoria. The Victorian Government is extending the smoking ban to e-cigarettes too. New anti-smoking laws will be introduced in Victorian Parliament to ban e-cigarettes in Victoria’s smoke-free places.

The new anti-smoking measures will be announced by Victoria’s Health Minister, Jill Hennessy, ahead of the legislation to be introduced into parliament next week. The electronic smoking devices will also be banned inside cars carrying children, in restaurants and enclosed workplaces. The new laws will come into effect next year.

Children under 18 years of age won’t be able to buy e-cigarettes. Health experts have argued that smoking e-cigarettes, also known as vaping, may turn young people into smokers. Moreover, the laws will provide more clarity to restaurants and workplaces. Although the exact health risks related to e-cigarettes are not clear, every year, around 4,000 Victorians die from tobacco-related illnesses.

“We're going to regulate them like they are a tobacco product and also make sure that we're not really using e-cigarettes as a starting point for people to get a habit to then start cigarettes and then get addicted to nicotine,” Hennessy told the ABC.

She also added that e-cigarettes should not be used to glamorise smoking by youngsters. In the absence of exact health risks of vaping, the government is being extra-cautious in its approach. Health experts are divided in their opinion as to the benefits/risks of e-cigarettes.

Some debate that e-cigarettes actually help in quitting smoking while others believe that it only glorifies smoking and even induces young people to take up smoking. Until the government receives confirmation of e-cigarette benefits, it would continue treating them as other tobacco products.

“We want to give certainty to people who don't know whether or not e-cigarettes should be allowed to be used in enclosed workspaces and at restaurants, people walking through airports for example with e-cigarettes,” Hennessy added.