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Welsh Assembly rejects Public Health Bill

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A victory for the vapers (but not for the reason you might expect)

Adjustable electronic cigarette, Non carcinogenic alternative for smoking, sunset in the background Sometimes the right thing happens for the wrong reason. A controversial anti-vaping bill that aimed to ban vaping anywhere where children may be present was blocked by Plaid Cymru, the Welsh national party.

A cheap date gone badly wrong...

Was it because they were convinced by the overwhelming body of scientific evidence, or because of the compelling case against limiting individual liberties without due cause? Nope, we’re talking politics here! The bill failed because an unpleasant member of the Labour party called the Welsh party a “cheap date”. Democracy in action. As a result of the jibe, Plaid Cymru rescinded its cooperation with the bill, causing it to fail. This means that vapers will be able to continue to vape in schools and educational establishments, anywhere serving food, premises that provide child care and on public transport — should the property owners allow it.

The evidence on secondhand vaping?

The law should clearly be used to protect the public interest. The ban on smoking in public places was justifiable because there was evidence that people were getting ill due to secondhand smoke. The right of the individual to smoke does not trump the right of nearby individuals to be free from disease. The difference is that there’s no evidence that vaping can cause any harm to bystanders. The toxicants in e-cigarette vapour are found in much lower concentrations than are present in e-cigarette smoke, by the time they are exhaled they are completely negligible according to current studies. An expert independent evidence review published by Public Health England stated that ‘there is no evidence so far that e-cigarettes are acting as a route into smoking for children or non-smokers’. Some of you might say “ban it anyway just in case we find something later on down the line”. The problem with this is the unintended consequences. By treating smoking and vaping the same, by banning them in the same places, the law is implying that cigarettes and e-cigarettes are equally dangerous when in fact vaping is thought to be “95% less harmful than smoking”. Another unintended consequence is that vapers — who are “almost exclusively current smokers or ex-smokers” will find it much harder to quit cigarettes if they are forced to share the same spaces as smokers. As other commentators have noted, it would be like saying that all AA meetings should be held in bars, at happy hour!

Respect common courtesies

We believe in the right of vapers to vape — but we also respect the right of bystanders not to be annoyed by clouds of vapor. This should be an issue that is managed as we Brits have managed for years: with politeness and courtesy. Much of the debate around vaping ask the question: “should vaping be allowed in public places?” This is an inflammatory question that conjures images of a vaper blowing clouds in people’s faces — such an image is at odds with how most people vape most of the time. We think that a better question would be “shouldn’t property owners be allowed to decide for themselves if vaping is allowed on their premises?” Even with the law failed, schools are able to enforce a no-vaping rule — as is their right. But the failed law also means that pub owners get to decide whether theirs is a vaping or non-vaping establishment. In a pub that is mainly frequented by vapers or unfussy clientele, where's the harm is letting the landlord decide for himself he doesn’t mind if people vape on his property?

Do you think that vaping should be allowed in public?