Guest post by Rhydian Mann, Welsh Vaper. (centre of the photo).
Welsh vapers have had a rough time of late, which is mainly down to Mark Drakeford, the current Minister for Health and Social Care. He wants Wales to be seen at the forefront of smoking rate reduction in the UK. In essence this is not such a bad thing. However, the way in which Mr Drakeford has gone about this is not just questionable but also completely ridiculous.
He announced his proposals to tackle smoking in the Public Health White Paper in April (or thereabouts), which included a complete ban on vaping in enclosed public spaces. In this case “public space” comes under any public space that the current smoking ban covers.
Pretty much anywhere which has 4 walls and a roof that you encounter when you leave your own home.
Mark Drakeford said the basis of this was due to fears of ‘re-normalisation’, i.e. the gateway effect where vaping supposedly leads to smoking and all that guff, and makes the of enforcement of the current smoking ban more difficult (as all e-cigs look like cigarettes surely!).
So a public consultation took place and many vapers like myself submitted a reply. However, once this consultation period was over, there has been no mention of it! So the team at Save E-cigs put forward the idea of raising a petition against the vaping ban proposals. With the aid of Simon Thurlow, the petition was launched after approval from the petitions committee, with the end date of Tues 30th September.
How did it do? FANTASTIC! The final amount of signatures on this petition was 1,196. So with this high number, in the general scheme of e-petitions in Wales, what happened next?
Well, on the 1st October 2014, I presented/handed over the Save E-cigs petition to the petitions committee in the Welsh Assembly building known as The Senedd. All the vapers that attended, myself included were under the impression that this handover was rather formal, however, via some communication breakdowns, it ended up more of a photo opportunity and a 15min or so informal chat.
During this chat, I started out by explaining our reasons for raising the petition and what we would like the result of the committee discussions to be. I persistently mentioned the favourite buzzword “evidence” to the committee members and my local Assembly Members (AM’s). The AMs and myself were even shown the results of a poll regarding the proposed ban on public e-cig use. The results stacked up very well in our favour.
E-cigarettes : Should the use of e-cigarettes in public places be banned?
- Yes – ( 90 votes )
- No – ( 2478 votes )
Total Answers 2568
Total Votes 2568
Along with other questions and answers there was a very good hint of what the next stage could be, and it could turn out to be very positive.
Unfortunately, an immediate drop of the proposals will not happen, as there are procedures to be followed. The petitions committee will discuss our petition on Tuesday 7th October, which can be watched on Senedd TV from 9am. Our petition will be the 2nd petition to be discussed.
What are the outcomes of this discussion? From what was discussed on Wednesday there are two possibilities.
1 – They ask Mark Drakeford for his views on the matter. Personally, I don’t believe his view will change at all, despite the consultation replies and our petition.
2- There will be an evidence session from vapers to the petitions committee. This is the next step which will be the most beneficial to Welsh vapers because it will be our chance to put the correct evidence over.
The Save e-cigs petition is hopefully one of the first steps in changing the view of the Welsh Assembly. The petition handover was a chance for communication between us and the Welsh Assembly, further communication will happen regardless, as communication can facilitate change.
Our foot is in the door; Welsh vapers will walk in and have their say.
Watch Rhydian in action here: http://youtu.be/04oHEZsHbFI?list=UUfFbE37IX0a-XAKE9yw-CPQ