The European Union may be poised to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes, it has been reported.

According to a leaked draft published by Tobacco Journal International, the revised EU Tobacco Products Directive contains a recommended ban on the marketing of all smokeless nicotine-containing products, with the one exception of Swedish snus, unless they are authorised as medicinal products on the basis of their quality, safety and efficacy.

The Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association (ECITA) said it had been “greatly alarmed” by the reports, and urged the European Commission to urgently confirm or deny the veracity of the leaked documents.

In a letter to the European Commission, ECITA president Katherine Devlin said: “As we understand it, the Commission will now have completed the Impact Assessment for this consultation process. This will no doubt have indicated the significant economic growth of the electronic cigarette industry, and your own Eurobarometer survey clearly demonstrates how significant the positive impact on public health could be, if electronic cigarettes remain widely available to smokers.

“It is crucial that the proper regulatory standards are in place, but this cannot be achieved through medicinal regulation. The costs are too high, and the restrictions on the flexibility and appeal of the product are too great, so all the considerable public health benefit potential would be lost.”

Imperial Tobacco, which recently bought into a third-party electronic cigarette business last month, said it was aware that a working version of the EU Tobacco Products Directive proposals had been leaked. “We are expecting the final, formal proposals to be published by the end of the year and we will be in a better position to comment at that time,” a spokeswoman said.