Rome, April 3 - Minors have been banned from using electronic cigarettes in Italy, a world leader in the booming start-up industry. This week the health ministry signed an ordinance prohibiting their sale to anyone aged 18 or younger, the same age limit for tobacco products, updating a previous ordinance that put the age limit for e-cigarettes at 16. The health ministry said that the devices, despite advertizing a less-harmful alternative to traditional smoking tobacco, still exceed acceptable daily levels of nicotine when puffed moderately, citing the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). "Thus one cannot exclude damaging effects to health," said Health Minister Renato Balduzzi in a statement. The ban is in place until October this year when it will need to be reviewed. In the meantime, Balduzzi ordered further research into the risks of electronic cigarettes by Italy's Higher Health Institute. The news was received warmly by Brescia-based electronic-cigarette maker Ovale, which over the last year has sold over one million devices, opened 400 stores and hired 1,000 workers in Italy, leading the world in the burgeoning industry. "We completely agree (with the measure)," said Ovale in a statement. "A rule of thumb for our business is to not promote smoking and not to sell to minors. We are exclusively devoted to selling an alternative to traditional cigarettes, and we offer it only to those who already smoke".
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