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.


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

    Comment number 1425.

    Long and short of it:

    Cigarettes have many, proven health risks, both for smokers and those around them.

    E-cigs may have some health risks for users, although likely much less, and much, much less (if any) for those around.

    Vapers have a great chance of never smoking again.

    Net benefit to society is very positive if ppl switch. They're less likely to switch if forced outdoors.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1419.

    This measure is simply to make enforcement easier.
    A less draconian measure would be to have these devices coloured in say vermillion. That they were not normal cigarettes would be obvious, and allow society to support people who need every help they can get.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1415.

    We all breathe in the contents of other people's lungs, particularly in an enclosed public place. But I'd rather not have them with the user's choice of additives, nicotine or not. I thought we'd got rid of that kind of pollution in enclosed places for good, but it appears some people can't socialise without exhaling what might well be offensive to others. Who knows what they'll put in them next?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1400.

    Smoking of any kind is ultimately unhealthy and costly to both the smoker & taxpayer. It beggars belief that so many people ignore the consequences of their actions and fail to accept any personal accountability. Smokers who use NHS resources better used elsewhere should pay a premium for such care. Ditto drunks & drug addicts. Why should the rest of us pay for their excesses?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1390.

    The government wants to ban E-Cigs simply so people will revert back to 'normal' cigs, which we all know carry a much higher tax than their electronic counterpart. Excuse my cynicism, but if the government wants to trash talk smoking constantly then i suggest they ban it in it's entirety. I don't smoke, but i don't look down my nose at those who do either.


Comments 5 of 10


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