Trade challenges e-cigarette ban in bars and pubs

e-cigarettesProposals have been announced to ban the use of electronic cigarettes in pubs, bars and clubs in Wales.

The Welsh government has published a White Paper for consultation, including plans for the ban on e-cigarettes in enclosed public spaces and a minimum alcohol price of 50p per unit.

It also proposes the creation of a Tobacco Retailers’ Register, requiring businesses to inform authorities if they are selling tobacco, alongside stiffer penalties for those that sell to under-18s.

Ministers claim that, while e-cigarettes contain no tobacco or tar, they normalise smoking and undermine the smoking ban and may also attract children who could then move onto normal cigarettes. It would be the first ban on smoking e-cigarettes, or “vaping”, in enclosed public spaces in the UK.

Health Minister Mark Drakeford said: “I have concerns about the impact of e-cigarettes on the enforcement of Wales’ smoking ban. That’s why we are proposing restricting their use in enclosed public places.

“I am also concerned that their use in enclosed public places could normalise smoking behaviour. E-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive, and I want to minimise the risk of a new generation becoming addicted to this drug.”

Kate Nicholls, strategic affairs director of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, questioned the effectiveness of the proposals in the White Paper. “The Welsh Government is right to be concerned about the availability of cheap alcohol being offered in the off-trade which continues to undermine public health in Wales,” she said.

“We are, however, wary that minimum unit pricing alone will not be enough to address the issues at hand, particularly when supermarkets continue to offer discounts and readily available cheap alcohol.

“We urge the Welsh Government to use their existing powers to tackle these harms, rather than immediately resorting to new legislation which is unlikely to address the issue at hand. A wider framework and cooperation with Westminster is needed to tackle unregulated sales in the off-trade.

“A restriction on the use of e-cigarettes also has the potential to deter people from visiting pubs and bars in Wales. Falling numbers of visitors will do nothing but hinder licensed hospitality’s ability to promote success and invest in growth.

“Pubs and clubs continue to be the best places for sociable, safe and supervised drinking. If the Welsh Government is committed to tackling problematic alcohol consumption, we need to see more being done to encourage drinking in a safe and responsible environment.”

Emma Logan, co-founder of leading e-cigarette-brand JAC Vapour, said: “There is no data to suggest that electronic cigarette vapour contains any life-threatening second-hand properties, therefore a proposed ban in enclosed public spaces does not make sense from a scientific viewpoint.

“Tobacco cigarettes are dangerous in a second capacity due to the tar and other carcinogens, none of which are in an e-cigarette. There is never, or ever has been, a risk of addiction to nicotine from second properties of e-cigarettes or even from tobacco cigarettes.

“Therefore, are we to believe that the Welsh government want to place a ban and force vapers to vape outside with smokers in designated smoking areas – a known health hazard – based on how it looks, which then makes e-cigs a social issue rather than a health issue?

“What we need is proper education: working with bars and restaurants with support from public health organisations, government and electronic cigarette bodies to ensure that smokers who can benefit most from these products are given the opportunity to do so without prejudice.”

JAC Vapour last month unveiled Clear Steam, an e-liquid for e-cigarettes that emits no visible vapour when exhaled.

Jacob Fuller, chief executive of another leading e-cigarette brand blu eCigs, formerly Skycig, said: “E-cigarettes are entirely different products to tobacco cigarettes. Apart from nicotine, the content is very different, as is the appearance, particularly that of our new blu e-cigarettes, which will be black with a blue LED tip.

“E-cigarettes are also marketed only to adult smokers. To say that they normalise smoking cigarettes is not a justifiable claim and, what’s more, to treat e-cigarettes in the same way as tobacco products is to restrict the freedom of adult smokers to choose the product they prefer.”

Click here for the White Paper.

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