Wales politics

E-cigarette public place ban likely to win assembly support

Man using an e-cigarette Image copyright Getty Images

A ban on e-cigarettes in some public places is likely to win support from the assembly.

The Welsh government is concerned e-cigarette use may normalise smoking.

A Liberal Democrat attempt to scrap the restrictions from the Public Health Bill is likely to fail with some Plaid Cymru AMs, including Elin Jones, supporting the regulations.

AMs will debate the ban, which has been watered down following opposition pressure, next week.

Previously the Welsh government wanted to restrict the use of e-cigarettes in all enclosed public and work places.

But a committee report found AMs were divided, with Plaid's Elin Jones suggesting imposing less stringent restrictions on e-cigarettes than those on tobacco.

Plaid split

In January, AMs approved amendments by Health Minister Mark Drakeford restricting the ban to establishments including schools, hospitals, train and bus stations and places selling food.

"Wet-only" pubs which do not serve food or have children on the premises are excluded.

The Welsh government will try to extend this list next week to a further list, including entertainment venues such as cinemas and zoos, shops and playgrounds.

Plaid Cymru is having a free vote on the issue. A spokesman for Elin Jones told BBC News she would be voting for the compromise proposal.

Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid AM for North Wales, also said he was likely to support the restrictions, although he had not made a final decision. Some other Plaid AMs said they were opposed to the ban.

A Plaid Cymru spokesperson said party leader Leanne Wood would consider the evidence before the vote, but was "generally not in favour".

The Liberal Democrats are tabling amendments to scrap the restrictions, which the Welsh Conservatives said they would support.

Image caption Health Minister Mark Drakeford amended the bill, restricting the ban to schools, hospitals, train and bus stations and places selling food

Welsh Lib Dem leader Kirsty Williams said: "Labour and Plaid AMs have one last chance next week to join thousands of Welsh vapers in backing the Welsh Lib Dems, and consign this vaping ban to the dustbin of history."

Labour needs the support of one opposition member.

Some anti-smoking campaigners have opposed restrictions, saying e-cigarettes help smokers kick the habit.

A Welsh government spokeswoman said the long-term health impacts of e-cigarettes was unclear, and the bill did not stop people using them to help them stop smoking.

The debate will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday. A final vote on the law will be taken on 15 March.

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