The First Minister of the Welsh Assembly, Carwyn Jones, has stated that the proposed ban on e-cigarettes in public places has been dropped from the forthcoming health bill following a vote by Assembly Members. Originally proposed by the previous health minister Mark Drakeford, due to concerns regarding e-cigs being used as a ‘gateway’ to traditional smoking by children, the removal of the ban from the bill has been hailed by many as a victory for common sense.
“There is no point trying to bang our heads against a brick wall when it comes to e-cigs,” said Mr Jones.
“The Public Health Bill will be brought back to the assembly but clearly there is no point including the provisions on e-cigs when we know they are not going to get through.”
For many, e-cigs have been an excellent solution for traditional smoking cessation, as well as being considered over 95% safer than a standard cigarette according to a report by the Royal College of Physicians in May. This view has been echoed by those campaigning to have the ban excluded from the health bill.
“Introducing this ban would be a huge step backwards for smoking cessation,” said Tory assembly member Darren Millar. “Labour ministers are totally misguided in their war on e-cigarettes and these measures will potentially undermine public health rather than improve it.”
“We should be giving people a helping hand to quit smoking, not placing obstacles in their way.”
The use of e-cigarettes has proliferated in recent years, partly due to the continually rising prices of tobacco products in the UK, as well as their effectiveness in helping smokers give up the addiction for good. Vaping has been found to be over 60% more effective than patches and gum to avoid nicotine cravings. Another benefit is that users are attempting to quit using e-cigs autonomously and at their own expense, rather than using the NHS, whose cessation methods have only a 15% success rate.
Pro-vaping campaigners are now hoping that the dropping of the motion will serve as a precedent to politicians across England, Scotland, and Wales who are hoping to implement similar e-cig bans by updating national health bills. While the issue is sure to return to the table in the Welsh Assembly at an unspecified point in the future, researchers are hoping more scientific evidence will be made available in support of the use of e-cigs as both a smoking cessation device, as well as a more socially acceptable and healthy way to pacify their nicotine addiction.