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.

Let us repeat that. The most recent Welsh Health Survey failed to find a single vaper who said they had never smoked before.

Dear Assembly Member,

One of the key arguments used by the Welsh Government in support of their proposed ban on vaping in enclosed public places and work places is that e-cigarettes may be a gateway to smoking.

As a campaign we have supplied the Welsh Government with a significant amount of credible independent expert evidence that clearly shows this not to be the case. Each and every time we have done this we have been ignored.

Now the Welsh Government’s own health survey[1] has demonstrated that e-cigarettes are not a gateway to smoking. The most recent Welsh Health Survey failed to find a single vaper who said they had never smoked before. Let us repeat that. The most recent Welsh Health Survey failed to find a single vaper who said they had never smoked before.

Surely the Welsh Government could not ignore the findings of their own health survey? Well it seems they can. So determined are the Welsh Government to ban vaping in enclosed public places and places of work that it seems they will ignore any evidence that does not suit their agenda. What they do is cherry pick the evidence that does.

The Welsh Government believe they can ignore their own health survey which questioned 3,565 Welsh adults, because a US study of 700 teenagers found evidence of teenagers going on to become smokers having tried e-cigarettes.

However, appearing before the Assembly’s Health and Social Care Committee recently, Professor Linda Bauld, Professor of Health Policy and Dean of Research (Impact) at the University of Stirling, and Deputy Director of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, said the following when referring to this US study:

“I’ve not only looked carefully at that study, I also know the authors, and I work with them as an editor of the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research, and Adam Leventhal, who is the lead author on that study, himself would say that there is no proof of causality, as ASH Wales have said, between the children who have tried an e-cigarette. The measure of use in that study is just having tried an e-cigarette at least once, and then 12 months later, just over 200 of them went on to try a cigarette at least once. Those are very weak measures of use. They were put in a very large survey. They weren’t able to add any more detailed questions. I would say that we do need to keep track of all these studies and look at them in detail, but I’m not persuaded that that single study is a cause for concern that experimenting or trying an e-cigarette means you will become a smoker.”[2]

 Once again the Welsh Government and their supporters on the Committee chose to ignore Professor Bauld’s expert opinion as it does not suit their agenda.

One body that the Welsh Government has cited in support of its proposed ban on vaping in enclosed public places and places of work from the very outset has been the World Health Organisation.

The WHO’s position on vaping is been roundly condemned, not just by vapers, but by 53 independent leading public health experts.[3] Importantly, Derek Yach, former head of tobacco control at the WHO and author of the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control has also criticised the WHO on this matter.[4]

What do ASH Wales, The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, Cancer Research UK, The British Lung Foundation, Professor Linda Bauld, Professor John Britton, Professor Peter Hayek, Professor Gerry Stimson, The Scottish Government, Public Health England, The Royal Society for Public Health, The Royal College of Physicians, Tenovus Cancer Care, The British Dental Health Foundation, and countless other independent experts all have in common? They all agree that the Welsh Government’s proposed ban on vaping in enclosed public places and places of work is wrong.

These are all people and organisations dedicated to public health, that the Welsh Government is choosing to ignore them is deeply concerning.

 

[1] http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/questions-raised-over-whether-e-10224276

[2] http://www.senedd.assembly.wales/documents/s44529/1%20October%202015.pdf

[3] http://www.ecigarette-research.com/web/index.php/2013-04-07-09-50-07/2014/164-who-ecigs

[4] http://new.spectator.co.uk/2015/02/e-cigarettes-save-lives/