The sale of e-cigarettes containing nicotine is illegal in Switzerland, although people are allowed to import them for personal use. E-cigarettes without nicotine can be bought in pharmacies.
In March, a Lausanne University study concluded that the sale of all e-cigarettes should be allowed, with restrictions.
However on Wednesday, the Swiss Respiratory Society (SSP) and its sister organization the Swiss Paediatric Pulmonary Society (SSPP) said the sales ban should not be lifted, as not enough is yet known about the effects of smoking e-cigarettes.
E-cigarettes containing nicotine are often used by smokers trying to give up tobacco, but their use is controversial, given users remain dependent on nicotine. The World Health Organization currently advises against using e-cigarettes to give up smoking.
The smoking of e-cigarettes in Switzerland should be treated similarly to conventional smoking, argued the SSP/SSPP, with a ban on the distribution of e-cigarettes to minors – regardless of nicotine content – restrictions on smoking e-cigarettes in public places and a ban on advertising and sponsorship.
The SSP/SSPP also called for e-cigarettes to be subjected to the same taxes as tobacco products. The federal government exempted e-cigarettes from such taxes two years ago.
Moreover, all conflicts of interest should be declared, said the societies.
"The e-cigarette market is dominated to a large extent by the tobacco industry. The similarity of the product with conventional cigarettes and its promotion by the same industry constitutes a fundamental conflict."