Adverts for e-cigarettes that may appeal to children should be banned, health experts say.
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) said while e-cigarettes were less harmful than smoking, marketing them for non-medical reasons should not be allowed.
It said social media often carries adverts that glamorise vaping, and manufacturers create vaping flavours that are “child friendly”.
Professor Russell Viner, president of the RCPCH, said: “Use of electronic cigarettes has risen dramatically over recent years as smokers take steps to reduce their exposure to the harmful toxins contained in cigarettes.
“This is a welcome move as smoking remains the single biggest cause of avoidable deaths in the UK.
“However, e-cigarettes are not ‘safe’ – they still contain nicotine – and this rise in use, alongside glamorous marketing campaigns from manufacturers, creates yet another habit that is attractive to young people.”
Prof Viner said children and young people are impressionable, and while manufacturers cannot advertise directly to them, “they can and do make their packaging and flavours very child friendly”.
He added: “That’s why we want to see all forms of marketing of e-cigarettes for non-medicinal use banned.”
“This would still allow the promotion of e-cigarettes as stop smoking aids but would mean cracking down on the adverts you so frequently see on social media, to prevent them filtering through to young impressionable eyes.”
The call comes after San Francisco became the first US city to ban sales of e-cigarettes until their effects on health are better established.
Juul, the most popular e-cigarette producer in the US – whose product is now available in the UK, said the move would drive smokers back to cigarettes and create a black market.