Update from the Lib Dems in Wales re the vaping ban…..

As the Public Health Bill progresses through the Assembly I thought it might be useful to update you on the proposal by the Welsh Labour Government (now with Plaid Cymru support) to outlaw the use of e-cigarettes in public places.

The Welsh Government had originally wanted to ban e-cigarettes from all enclosed public and work places but Labour’s health minister Mark Drakeford has now backed down from these plans in the face of opposition pressure, and the Health and Social Services Committee has passed amendments tabled by him listing places where the ban will apply.

Vaping will now only be allowed in pubs that serve drink but do not serve food as well, and where unaccompanied children are banned. Their use will also be restricted in schools, colleges, universities, train stations and on public transport, among other places.

The Welsh Government have said that workplaces not open to the public are also no longer captured by the restrictions, but stressed that these changes are proposals and others may be brought forward later.

As Welsh Liberal Democrats Leader, Kirsty Williams has said, the list is “as clear as mud”. She added: “Just because the minister has made a separation in law of the difference between tobacco and e-cigarettes does not mean that that’s how the public will view it”.

And when the fact that many pubs where vaping will be allowed serve pickled eggs, pork scratchings, packets of crisps on the bar etc was raised with him, the Minister was at pains to say that his amendments do not cover food of that sort.

The importance of any law of this kind is that it should be easily understandable and enforceable. Unfortunately, the way this bill is now framed means that it is far from passing that test. And of course there is still no evidence of harm from second-hand vapour to back up the measures. This law is going from bad to worse.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats will be bringing further amendments to the next stage of this bill to try and remove these restrictions on vaping.

In the meantime please keep up the pressure by lobbying other AMs and by sharing our petition by e-mail and social media – the link you need is http://www.welshlibdems.wales/ecigs.

Majority of Lib Dems say e-cigarettes should be regulated as medicinal smoking cessation patches or gum!

The words below were copy and pasted from this website: http://www.libdemvoice.org/drugs-and-ecigarettes-criminalise-legalise-regulate-heres-what-lib-dem-members-think-39554.html

This is apparently what the Liberal Democrats really think about e cigs, and it has surprised us here at Save e cigs, as there were ( are? ) a few Lib Dems who fought very hard for e cigs.

But it appears they are the minority.

Have a read and then let us know what you think in the comments section – ( but please be polite!)

Majority say e-cigarettes should be regulated as medicinal smoking cessation patches or gum

Electronic cigarettes contain a nicotine-based liquid that is vaporised and inhaled by the user, providing a flavour and physical sensation similar to smoking a cigarette. They do not contain tobacco, which means there is no tar – it is the tar in ordinary cigarettes that kills.

Some say that e-cigarettes will lead to a reduction in people smoking tobacco cigarettes. Others say they are a gateway to smoking tobacco cigarettes. Which of the following statements do you agree with most regarding e-cigarettes?

54% – They should be regulated in the same way as medicinal smoking cessation patches or gum
20% – They should be regulated in the same way as products such as food

14% – They should be treated the same as standard tobacco cigarettes

1% – They should be banned entirely

3% – Other

9% – Don’t know

An interesting response here: over half (54%) of Lib Dems supported the regulation of e-cigarettes as medicinal smoking cessation patches or gum. This was the option Lib Dem MEPs successfully defeated in the European parliament on the grounds it would would have increased e-cigarettes’ cost and reduced their availability in many countries. Their accepted amendment saw e-cigarettes treated in the same as standard tobacco cigarettes, an option favoured by just 14% of party members here. Here’s a sample of your comments…

• As a smoker, I’d say getting rid of them is crazy – we need to think about getting people off cigarettes, and a smoking substitute like this has far more appeal than patches or gum. Having said that, nicotine even without tar isn’t as vanilla as chocolate or whatever, so the food classification strikes me as odd.
• Tax the electronic cigarette if purchased on the high street , if prescribed for addicts to recover from addiction do not tax.
• They shouldn’t be advertised; the advertising of a addictive substances should be banned entirely. Otherwise, restricting access to adults seems entirely sufficient.
• They should be banned entirely: it will not be long before some smart alec developes a method of vaporising most, if not all, hard drugs to be “smoked” and inhaled with these contraptions. Even the Dutch are contemplating outlawing the process because of this risk.
• I suspect the answers to this question will make me consider whether I am in the right party when they are published. Far too many of my fellow Lib Dems are fond of bansturbation… :/
• Restricted to chemist shops, or e cigarette shops.
• Why on earth should anyone be complaining about e-cigarettes? If they stop people from real smoking then they should be supported.
• Thanks to electronic cigarettes I have not touched a real cigarette for more than eight months. I would estimate that over half the smokers at work now smoke electronic cigarettes. I feel far healthier and don’t get out of breath easily like I used to. They are very new, however, and until there is any evidence of harm they should be easily accessible.
• Restricting e-cigarettes threatens what could be the greatest public health advance for years. Tobacco kills so anything that helps people off it must be good.

• My wife uses one sometimes, and I hope that it may help her to reduce her use of cigarettes. It slightly reduces my exposure to passive smoking. If they were available on prescription then there would be another opportunity for the medical advice to be repeated.
• I support the regulation of these products to ensure they are of a safe standard and are not available to minors but I am totally opposed to the use being banned in public places as there is no issue with breathing in second hand smoke, dangerous to health unlike real cigarettes
• We do not have longitudinal studies of the impact of e-cigs, and while the risk is unknown, let’s not kill people. We made that mistake with normal cigarettes.
• There is plenty of evidence that cigarettes are dangerous to people who aren’t smoking them, which it is right for them to be regulated. There is no such evidence for these, so let people get on with their lives.
• I stopped smoking virtually overnight with these. They are far less harmful than cigarettes. It would be madness to ban then whilst still allowing incendiary cigarettes.
• I’m happy with the compromise agreed upon by the European parliament. They are not the same as food, and should not be regulated as such, but it is far from proven that the risk of encouraging smoking comes close to outweighing the advantages to people trying to give up.
• We have no idea what drugs these preparations contain, nor what their long-term effects are. They should therefore either be treated as drugs or food products and their safety evaluated and monitored.
• The passing of the ‘smoke-filled room’ has been accepted socially. It would be hard for organizations to stop the near-equivalent from returning – and for the occasional real cigarette to be spotted. They do make ‘smoking’ acceptable again.
• Why on earth would a more expensive product that is only now becoming as available as cigarettes be a gateway to cigarettes?
• There needs to be regulation of the content and strength of e-cigarettes. Nicotine is a very addictive drug (some say more addictive than herione) so, though having fewer side-effects such as cancer (as far as we know so far), they are not to be encouraged. If tobacco had been discovered today, it would have been treated as a hard drug and rightly banned. Too late, unfortunately.
• All substances should be sensibly regulated with an eye to ensuring the individual is fully aware of risks.

1,500 Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. 745 responded in full – and a further 87 in part – to the latest survey, which was conducted between 16th and 22nd April.
Please note: we make no claims that the survey is fully representative of the Lib Dem membership as a whole. However, LibDemVoice.org’s surveys are the largest independent samples of the views of Lib Dem members across the country, and have in the past offered accurate guides to what party members think.
For further information on the reliability/credibility of our surveys, please refer to FAQs: Are the Liberal Democrat Voice surveys of party members accurate? and polling expert Anthony Wells’ verdict, On that poll of Lib Dem members.
The full archive of our members’ surveys can be viewed at http://www.libdemvoice.org/category/ldv-members-poll
* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.

Final vote on the TPD; what now for ecigs?



Guest Post from Rebecca Taylor MEP.

After several weeks of complicated discussions with colleagues, I was disappointed to hear yesterday that the Conference of Presidents (the leaders of the Parliament’s political groups) has not yet given the go-ahead to allow split or separate votes in next week’s final vote on the Tobacco Products Directive.

The current argument is about whether the split or separate votes should come before the single vote on the trilogue agreement or afterwards. If they come afterwards, they can only be voted in the unlikely event of the trilogue deal being rejected – so obviously they must come beforehand. I am of course working with colleagues to try to push for this. If there is the possibility to vote to remove certain parts of article 18 or reject the entire article, I will do that as will a number of ALDE colleagues.

So it is possible that on Wednesday MEPs may only have a single vote

(Yes/No/Abstain) on the entire TPD, with no opportunity to single out and remove specific parts of the text.

However, as I have already made clear numerous times, I will not vote against the Directive as a whole. Unlike some who have supported the case for sensible regulation of e-cigarettes, I also support the tobacco control measures in the directive (my voting record speaks for itself). I believe that tobacco control measures and e-cigarettes are two sides of the same coin; the tobacco control measures can discourage people from starting to smoke and sensible regulation of e-cigarettes can provide a way for smokers to quit their tobacco habit. I know that some e-cig users disagree with me about the tobacco control measures or consider them to be unimportant; there we can agree to disagree.

However, I believe that one of the key reasons that myself, Frédérique Ries and Chris Davies were able to get enough MEPs to vote in favour of the ALDE plenary amendment on e-cigarettes in the first place, is because none of us could be identified as MEPs who backed the tobacco industry line on the TPD.

This was against a backdrop of some opponents of e-cigarettes deliberately trying to blur smoking and vaping (and in fact some still are, which annoys me greatly).

So where does this leave e-cigarettes now?  Well, we must recognise that an awful lot of progress has been made compared to the initial Commission proposal, which would have seen across the board medicines regulation.

But the fact remains that there are parts of the agreed Article 18, which are far from satisfactory, and this is why the Liberal group negotiator

Frédérique Ries refused to sign up to the final deal. The problematic points include:

•   Continued option for Member States to regulate e-cigs as medicines “by function or presentation”

•    The arbitrary threshold of 20mg/ml of nicotine to be allowed in e-liquids;

•    The possibility for the European Commission to propose ban on a specific device in all Member States, if three or more countries remove it from their own markets.

This means that there is still work to do if the TPD is approved next week.

Implementation will be key and it is vital to ensure national governments take as flexible an approach to e-cigs as possible.

It is therefore necessary to keep up strong lobbying of national governments, so that ministers go for consumer product regulation of devices, which is set as a precedent by this Directive on a European level.

After reading clarifications of the technicalities involved in this

Directive provided by the Health Commissioner Tonio Borg (in response to questions from Chris Davies), I am optimistic that it would difficult for a

Member State to regulate a product under pharmaceutical rules, except where companies chose to opt for medicines regulation themselves. The wording of the article obliges governments to prove that an e-cig meets the definition of a medicinal product as set out in Directive 2001/83 EC – namely a substance must have properties for treating or preventing disease in human beings. Numerous courts across the EU have already rejected the application of this definition to e-cigs.

On the banning of devices across the EU, not only do three Member States have to prove that the devices have pose a ‘significant risk to human health’ (quite a high bar), but the Commission can only use this power through a procedure called ‘delegated acts’, which allows the Parliament to veto such a decision if enough MEPs disagree with it (and MEPs regularly reject delegated acts).

And finally, regarding the 20mg/ml threshold, this has been significantly raised from the original 4mg/ml suggested by the Commission, and the 2mg/ml put forward by national governments and, as we are told by a number of scientific experts that this will satisfy the majority of vapers, around 70% of whom use 20mg/ml or less. However, I accept that vapers who use a higher nicotine threshold may suffer unnecessarily because of this.

I understand and share consumers’ frustration and disappointment that the final text on e-cigarettes has enough caveats and loopholes to cause great concern. It is a massive improvement on the original proposal, but still not good enough.