Electronic cigarettes are readily available for anyone, including children, to buy in trendy shopping malls, despite growing fears over the health risks they pose. But the government is working to outlaw the personal vaporisers. Their use is already banned in no-smoking zones such as indoor public areas and certain outdoor locations, alongside traditional cigarettes. A visit to the Sino Centre in Mong Kok, a popular haunt of young people, found various brands of e-cigarettes in colourful packaging and different flavours, such as strawberry, banana and mint, on display in several shops. Most cost between HK$38 and HK$300, do not specify content - such as whether they contain nicotine - and do not carry warnings about potential health risks. Staff do not need to check if customers are at least 18 years old and did not warn buyers that the products were illegal to use in no-smoking areas. Although battery-powered vaporisers are widely regarded as an alternative to tobacco, undersecretary for food and health Professor Sophia Chan Siu-chee said there was little evidence to show that e-cigarettes reduced consumption of tobacco. "Some of these products contain substances which are addictive and hazardous to health. The government feels the need to take a more active role to protect the health of the public," Chan said. "We notice that the e-cigarette companies are targeting young people as they try to market them as trendy products." They can be sold openly in Hong Kong if they do not contain nicotine. Any product with nicotine has to be registered with the Health Department. Anyone who uses e-cigarettes in no smoking areas - including restaurants, workplaces and designated public places including school campuses, public parks and beaches - may be subject to an HK$1,500 fine. The Council on Smoking and Health, the city's anti-smoking watchdog, wants a total ban on e-cigarettes, including sales, advertising, distribution, sponsorship and manufacturing. But the Coalition on Tobacco Affairs, which represents the tobacco industry, opposed the ban and urged the government to introduce regulations instead. "The government should take a thorough review of the related scientific research and academic studies before formulating the policy on e-cigarettes," a spokeswoman said.