E-cigarettes face curb in public places in Wales

 

Health Minister Mark Drakeford said the aim was to address some of the nation's major public health challenges

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Wales could be the first part of the UK to ban the use of electronic cigarettes in enclosed public places.

Ministers say they are responding to concern that the devices - which can contain nicotine - normalise smoking and undermine the smoking ban.

A minimum alcohol price of 50p per unit is also proposed in a white paper of ideas for public health legislation.

Health Minister Mark Drakeford said the aim was to address some of the nation's major public health challenges.

Analysis

It's now generally accepted that the smoking ban has had a positive health impact overall.

But as part of what it calls a radical new law to improve public health, the Welsh government is now turning its attention from tobacco to electronic cigarettes.

Sales of e-cigarettes have boomed in recent years - supporters claim they're much safer than ordinary cigarettes and can help some people quit.

Certain pubs, cafes and the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff have already banned e-cigs.

The Welsh government wants to restrict their use only to places where you can legally smoke tobacco - for example outside or in smoking shelters.

Ministers claims e-cigarettes give the impression that smoking in public is normal and acceptable. It also argues that children could be tempted to try them, which could lead to nicotine addiction and be a gateway to smoking.

However opponents of the move claim that link isn't proven and the proposed law could stigmatise people who are trying to give up.

"Taking concerted, collective action to address public health concerns remains one of the most powerful contributions any government can make to the welfare and wellbeing of its population," he said.

"Alcohol and tobacco contribute to many life-threatening illnesses and are major causes of persistent inequalities in health.

"I have concerns about the impact of e-cigarettes on the enforcement of Wales' smoking ban. That's why we are proposing restricting their use in enclosed public places.

"I am also concerned that their use in enclosed public places could normalise smoking behaviour.

"E-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive, and I want to minimise the risk of a new generation becoming addicted to this drug."

However Richard Filbrandt, e-cigarette user and co-owner of the Vibrant Vapour cafe in Carmarthen, said they had studies showing there was no risk to passive smokers.

"There are studies done by Air for Change in America that say it doesn't warrant withdrawing them from public places, and they are the same people that said take cigarettes away from public places," he told BBC News.

"Why should we be treated like smokers? Why should we be put out at risk of passive smoking ourselves in a smoking area when we do not smoke?"

Welsh Conservatives described the ban as a "step backwards" for quitters.

Stiffer penalties

Shadow Health Minister Darren Millar said: "There is a clear danger that forcing someone outside into a smoker's hut will put them in temptation's way and harm their health due to second-hand smoke exposure."

On the subject of alcohol, Mr Drakeford said there was "indisputable evidence that the price of alcohol matters".

"It's no coincidence that as the affordability of alcohol has increased substantially, so has alcohol-related death and disease," he said.

Are e-cigarettes safe? (Report first published February 2013)

"A minimum unit price will make a strong contribution to preventing alcohol overuse and misuse and reducing alcohol-associated illnesses."

Other proposals in the white paper, which will be subject to consultation, include;

  • a tobacco retailers' register with stiffer penalties for those selling to under 18s
  • whether to make it an offence to deliver tobacco ordered online to someone under 18, even if the item was ordered by an adult
  • a national register of tattooists and providers of cosmetic piercing in order to improve regulation and set cleanliness and hygiene standards
  • requiring local authorities to develop a strategy to ensure toilets are publically available in local communities

Chief Medical Officer Dr Ruth Hussey said: "On the seventh anniversary of the smoking ban, it is symbolic that Wales is once again at the forefront of a new set of radical proposals to improve public health."

The white paper - Listening to you: Your health matters - is open to consultation until 24 June.

 

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  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 129.

    107.Philip Le Roux
    "Also they are an easy means of concealing and taking other drugs such as Canabis, Speed or Heroin." I'd like to know who you can unseal a plastic containder, add drugs and reseal. If you want to smoke those drugs don't you think it would be a tad easier with roll ups? Or instead of making all that effort just snort them somewhere private like a toilet?

  • rate this
    +213

    Comment number 128.

    This is ludicrous. The government 'insists' on people reining in their smoking, so they do and then what they do gets banned. We can't win - these governments just aren't happy to let people get on with things. Whatever it is - it isn't smoking - if anything it's better than that.

    Governments really have to stop forcing what they think is right on people.

  • Comment number 127.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +34

    Comment number 126.

    A lot of the negative comments regarding ecigs here are coming from people that have not seen the research that shows that 'passive vapour' poses no risk to bystanders.

    It seems that they are also buying into the flawed 'if it looks like a duck' mentality.

    Vaping & smoking are 2 completely different things & people need to educate themselves regarding this before posting knee jerk reactions

  • rate this
    +22

    Comment number 125.

    For those saying ban because of the nicotine in the vapour I presume you'll be first to say ban drinking coffee in public places because of the caffeine in the vapour or would that be infringing on your rights

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 124.

    They will be banning dihydrogen monoxide next.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 123.

    'Vaping' has to be better for the poor fool than smoking, and it looks really cool - especially outside!!

  • rate this
    +18

    Comment number 122.

    It would appear that, once again, we have a set of spoilers determined to try and make the country free of putting "anything" in your mouth. Surely, if these E-cigs help to stop people smoking, they can only be a good thing. There are always those with pseudo fascist tendencies who say that we should what they want and not what you want

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 121.

    "6. Wrinklyoldgit
    Smoking e-cigarettes is an addiction no different to smoking cannabis or using cocaine or heroin by weak minded people who know the consequences of their actions
    Addicts to alcohol who drive a motor vehicle are subject to the penalty of the law, e-cigs are no different."

    Banning Caffeine/Coffee then? No? More harm & more reason to then e cigs google Caffeine overdose?

  • rate this
    +141

    Comment number 120.

    Stupid idea, the point of the smoking ban was to stop pub employees from having to breathe in second hand smoke.

    It's gone from being about passive smoking to banning the sight of smoking.

  • rate this
    +101

    Comment number 119.

    A product that was initially marketed as a way to get people off their cigarette addiction was working too well for the comfort of the tobacco industry who have now brought out their own versions and are marketing them at a new generation of non smoking customers as a way of re-normalising the cigarette. This cynical rebranding must not be allowed to happen but neither should they be banned.

  • Comment number 118.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +85

    Comment number 117.

    Banned because it LOOKS like smoking?

    How about we have a ban on councilors and MPs because the LOOK [and act] like bandits

  • rate this
    +15

    Comment number 116.

    The State meddling in areas where it's not needed. If it's "all about Health" then how about supermarkets refusing to sell obese people chocolate and stuff? If it helps people break the Habit and Addiction of smoking then go for it! All the best to those trying to quit, remember "never give-up giving up!".

  • rate this
    -105

    Comment number 115.

    If e-cigs are non-addictive and have no effect, why the hell do people buy them. These manufacturers have got millions of people in their pockets yet again buying another worthless product. They are not concerned about your health, only making the product addictive enough to make you keep coming back for more.

  • rate this
    -30

    Comment number 114.

    Why not, out of consideration for others who are not enamoured by your E-smoking, use your E-cigs outdoors and at home, and your nicotine patches in public places.
    Funny how some people are proclaiming their right to smoke in public, yet condemning women who try to breastfeed in a similar environment. One is natural, one is not.

  • rate this
    -6

    Comment number 113.

    I wouldn't stop people smoking these things, but don't do it in my face. That's being anti-social.
    If people can puff at them in my face then they shouldn't be offended if I let one drop in theirs.

  • rate this
    +15

    Comment number 112.

    Its not smoking there is no smoke or cigarette so how does it encourage smoking? Dare I ask where their evidence is for banning the use of a completely legal product that is completely safe to people around them. Do babies sucking their thumbs in public encourage people to smoke, does eating in public encourage people to become obese. Facts welsh govt not PC nonsense.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 111.

    @73

    Violent video games does not make a violent child. Children copy what they see. What next ban Power Rangers? If we all copied video games then I would be lying in a sewer in a pair of blue dungarees eating magic mushrooms.

    I grew up watching Arnie movies, and a whole host of great 80's cartoons. I'm not a violent person

  • rate this
    +16

    Comment number 110.

    Does this mean chocolate will be banned from public places as it may lead to being overweight, how much more pathetic will the busy bodies become ?

 

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