COMMUTERS in Essex, trying to kick the habit by smoking electronic cigarettes, will no longer be able to use the devices on trains.

Rail operators in the county have joined other major companies in banning the use of the e-cigarettes on services.

Greater Anglia and c2c have made the move following concerns about the safety of e-cigarettes and the confusion they could cause staff and other passengers who mistake the steam vapours for real smoke.

The ban has also been extended to station platforms across the county.

Operator First Capital Connect faced a backlash from customers earlier this year after it made the move to ban e-cigarettes. Scot Rail has also banned the device.

The Government has decided the Medicines and Healthcare Products’ Regulatory Agency oversee the use of e-cigarettes from next year.

E-cigarettes, or personal vaporisers, provide the user with a hit of nicotine and have been promoted as the “safer” option for smokers, because they do not contain the hundreds of other chemicals contained in tobacco.

The vapours released by the device are harmless, leave no bad odours and evaporate in seconds.

A Greater Anglia spokesperson said: “In common with other train operators, we have recently taken the decision to include e-cigarettes in the smoking ban on our trains and stations. We have communicated this to our customers on station information posters.

“This decision is in line with the British Medical Association’s recommendation that e-cigarettes should be included in the ban on smoking in public places.”

Rochford-based Electronic Cigarette Suppliers were one of the first companies to bring the device to the UK in 2008. Director David Cousins used to smoke 40 cigarettesaday, but now smokes an e-cigarette.

He said: “I can understand where the train companies are coming from if you’re sat next to someone who is using one, but I can’t understand it on a 500ft platform. They stop you drinking alcohol onaplatform, and they sell it on the train.

“There are 1.3million people in the UK that use e-cigarettes, and that’s 1.3million people who no longer put strain on NHS services.”

C2C was unavailable for comment.