A FURNESS pub landlord has become one of the first in the country to ban electronic cigarettes from the premises for health reasons.

E-cigs, using vapour containing nicotine, are perfectly legal and are sold in many pubs as well as supermarkets.

But Craig Sherrington, landlord at the General Burgoyne in Great Urswick, is worried the largely untested products could be a health hazard to his staff and customers. They can be smoked outside like normal cigarettes, but not in the pub.

He said: "We're worried about it because there are unknown risks. We don't want to subject our staff and customers to something that's not been tested."

The Burgoyne's ban follows a similar decision by the JD Wetherspoon chain. But that decision was taken because staff found it hard to distinguish between e-cigs and normal cigarettes.

Only the Burgoyne has imposed an e-cig ban on health grounds. The products are welcome in restaurants, pubs and clubs across the UK because they are not covered by Smokefree legislation.

More than 1.3 million people now use electronic cigarettes in Britain but the public health community is divided.

Some believe they are lifesavers because it is the tar in tobacco that kills, not the nicotine. Others say we should be trying to wean addicts off nicotine and say e-cigarettes normalise the habit of smoking.

Both British American Tobacco and Philip Morris are now making and marketing electronic cigarettes. Many of them look exactly like cigarettes.

The UK government wanted e-cigarettes to be regulated as medical devices, which would have required stringent testing.

But the European Parliament has decreed they are consumer products unless cartridges contain more than 20mg of nicotine.

The Department of Health has yet to decide what it will do about e-cigarettes and so-called "vaping".

But Craig Sherrington is a step ahead and using his landlord privilege to ban the e-cigs.

He said: "We just felt it was the right way to go. We don't want nicotine in the pub.

"People have been pretty understanding about it. They've just gone outside, which is fine."