MEXICO, June 1 — Mexico yesterday banned sales of electronic cigarettes and other vaping devices because of concerns about their health effects, the government announced.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said it was a “lie” to claim that e-cigarettes are a safe alternative to inhaling tobacco smoke.

“The vapours are also harmful for health,” added Lopez Obrador, who signed a decree introducing the ban on World No Tobacco Day.

He showed a pink vaping device to illustrate how the products are intended to appeal to young people.

“Look at the colour, the design,” Lopez Obrador said.

Mexico City authorities meanwhile announced that smoking of any kind would be prohibited in the capital’s main square, the Zocalo, and surrounding areas in the busy historic district.

City Hall said the move was aimed at raising awareness of the health risks.

Smoking has been banned in closed spaces, government offices, shops, bars and restaurants for more than a decade, with exceptions for certain entertainment venues.

Mexico prohibited the import and export of vaping devices and cartridges in October, but the companies have continued to sell their inventory, Deputy Health Minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said.

The new ban covers “the circulation and marketing of these new products,” he added.

E-cigarettes heat up a cartridge of liquid typically containing nicotine and other chemicals into an aerosol. The user inhales the resulting vapor, mimicking traditional cigarettes.

Proponents of vaping say it is safer than traditional tobacco.

The World Health Organisation considers electronic cigarettes to be harmful to health and has called for tight regulation to stop young people in particular from using them.

More than 30 countries have banned sales of electronic cigarettes, the WHO said last July.

In April, e-cigarette firm Juul agreed to pay US$22.5 million (RM98.6 million) in a US lawsuit that alleged the company deliberately targeted teenagers and lied about how addictive its products are. — AFP