In news which is being widely reported today, the Welsh Government has published plans to ban vaping in enclosed public spaces as a part of a new public health law package.
The move, which is likely to come into force in 2017, will mark the first such action of either the national government or any of the devolved governments in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Welsh ministers have argued that the ban is in response to the perceived ‘normalisation’ of smoking, rather than to any significant health concerns. This is despite an overwhelming 79% of respondents to a public consultation coming out against such a ban.
Emma Logan states, “JAC Vapour are incredibly disappointed with the Welsh Consultation ruling. It appears that public health decisions are being made on hearsay and a distinct lack of medical evidence. There is no evidence to support an argument that vaping normalises smoking nor is there any evidence that vaping has undermined any tobacco control policy. Health bodies should be educating smokers (and the general public) on the benefits of using e-cigarettes not demonising products that have been shown to aid smokers when quitting tobacco cigarettes, not least over 80% of JAC Vapour customers. A most questionable decision indeed.”
What this will mean for vapers in Wales is that from 2017, vaping will no longer be allowed in any enclosed public space, brining e-cigs broadly in line with the existing smoking ban. It will become illegal to use an e-cig in pubs, workplaces or taxis.
The move is already facing strong criticism from organisations such as ASH (Action on Smoking and Health), Cancer Research UK and the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies.
In light of the recent research by ASH, which show that there are now 2.6 million vapers in the UK, such a move risks making it more difficult for smokers in Wales to make the switch away from tobacco.
Such an action is unnecessarily restrictive, particularly as there is no evidence to support any ‘normalisation’ smoking. As ASH themselves found, uptake of e-cigs among those who have never smoked stands at a negligible 0.2%. Forcing vapers outside to the same smoking shelters they’ve just escaped from will do far more to ‘normalise’ smoking than vaping ever could, while subjecting them to the myriad health risks which we know result from passive smoking.
This ban puts up barriers to those looking to quit tobacco for a healthier alternative, and will likely undermine the public health which the new law seeks to protect.