The Cancer Council and the Australian Medical Association have called for the restricted sale of non-nicotine e-cigarettes and advertising bans consistent with tobacco regulations, despite objections from retailers.
The calls come as the ACT government continues to process more than 240 submissions regarding potential changes to the use and sale of e-cigarettes, with the territory's peak drug body accusing the government of bias.
The Cancer Council has cited "an urgent need for regulation" with e-cigarette use growing in popularity with teenagers "despite the health and social impacts remaining unknown."
"Children are at particular risk of the potential harms of electronic cigarettes, which are designed to be inhaled into the lung and have not been subject to appropriate safety assessment," read their submission to government.
"Despite this, electronic cigarettes come in a variety of flavours including fruit, confectionery, chocolate, red bull and other flavours which appeal to children."
The Cancer Council also raised concerns e-cigarette use could act as a gateway to tobacco use by teenagers, despite admitting further scientific research was required.
Logic Ecigs Australia owner Mark Kagan said there needed to be reforms in Australia although usage would continue despite government action, with e-cigarettes delivered through the mail or purchased at local markets.
"Approximately 92 per cent of the people that contact my office do so because they believe e-cigarettes will assist them to reduce or give up smoking," he said.
"In Western Australia, resale of e-cigarettes is banned altogether yet I receive orders almost daily from [WA] residents desperate to give up smoking.
"If e-cigarettes help a tiny amount to assist smokers to give up or reduce smoking then surely they should be encouraged by the Australian governments, not stymied."
Mr Kagan said potential reforms should concentrate on regulating the use of cigarettes by children.
"This is supposed to be the reason there is legislation in place – to protect children," he said.
"Why not ban the lolly flavours? Was this not the same problem with alcopops when they arrived on the scene?"
The Outback Vape Cafe in Gungahlin, which began selling e-cigarettes online in August 2013, has also claimed regulation could undermine the reduction in people smoking cigarettes in the ACT.
But the Australia Medical Association echoed the Cancer Council's warning that e-cigarettes could become "a gateway to smoking" and condemned the use of starter packs promoted to new users.
"The wide variety of sweet fruit, candy, alcohol and chocolate flavoured nicotine solutions for use with e-cigarettes could appeal to children and young people," said a spokeswoman.
"For health reasons, the marketing and advertising of e-cigarettes should be subject to the same restrictions as advertising of cigarettes, and they should only be available to people over the age of 18."
The spokeswoman said existing research into the health impacts of e-cigarette use was mixed and low level.
"High quality research on the role of e-cigarettes as part of a risk reduction strategy for smokers is needed," she said.
The ACT government's response to discussion paper submissions – expected to be released in early 2015 – will be delayed as ACT Health consider a surprising amount of community feedback.