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Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Welsh Government abandon evidence-based policy on e-cigs

I am sure that I have written this before, but there used to be a time when Welsh Ministers stood up in front of the Assembly and proudly boasted of making policy on the basis of evidence. Alas, the publication of the Public Health Bill today marks a significant departure from that approach.

The Welsh Government want to introduce the same restrictions on the use of e-cigarettes in public as apply to cigarettes. Consequently, people will be banned from using e-cigarettes in enclosed places such as restaurants, pubs and at work in Wales.

When the smoking ban was introduced there was very clear evidence as to the harmful impact of second-hand smoke on people's health. There is no such evidence with regards to e-cigarettes. Instead, ministers argue they do not want to take the risk of seeing smoking "normalised" again after the success of the smoking ban.

So by their own admission they are seeking to regulate a perfectly legal activity so as to change people's behaviour. The precedent that this sets is quite concerning and heralds the beginning of a nanny state or worse.

The anti-smoking campaign group ASH Wales, Cancer Research UK and Tenovus are among those opposed to this ban whilst the British Heart Foundation, British Lung Foundation and the Royal College of Physicians want more evidence. Furthermore in a public consultation on the proposals last year, 79% of responses were opposed. So it is not as if there is a public clamour for this measure either. Why does the Government bother consulting when it has already made up its mind?

Some people who vape are concerned that they will now be cast outside to join the smokers and that this will lead to them returning to smoking. Indeed there is some evidence in other countries that this is what has happened. There is strong evidence that e-cigarettes have enabled a large number of people to give up smoking, something that decades of lectures by government has failed to do.

This ban will be strongly opposed by the Welsh Liberal Democrats.
Thank you for replying to my email on this issue. We need people to understand that vaping is NOT smoking. I sincerely hope that you are in the majority on this issue, Thank you
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