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.