Today marks the date that the controversial Public Health (Wales) Bill will be debated in principal for the first time in the Senedd.
The backing for e-cigarettes and disapproval of the bill has been loud and proud during the initial consultation from both the wider public and experts alike, and today has been no different with a dozen public health and smoking cessation experts urging AMs to stand firm against the proposals.
The ban is the centre-piece of the Public Health Bill and will effectively ban the use of e-cigarettes in enclosed and substantially enclosed public places in Wales.
These experts include, Gerry Stimson, Emeritus Professor of Social Science and Medicine at Imperial College, London; Paul Aveyard, Professor at the Behavioural Medicine Department of Primary Care Health Sciences at Oxford University; Dr Jamie Brown, deputy director of the Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group at University College, London; and Ann McNeill, Professor of Tobacco Addiction at the National Addiction Centre, King’s College, London.
The group have sent a letter to the AM’s which states that: "There is no evidence to justify the legislation regarding electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and if passed it will discourage rather than encourage smokers to switch from smoking to e-cigarettes, with a negative impact on public health in Wales"
"We urge you to consider carefully the provisions of the Bill."
The signatories regards it a "disappointing" failure by the Assembly's health and social care committee to reach a consensus view on the idea of a ban, arguing that they: "want to make it clear that the provisions in this Bill relating to e-cigarettes are not evidence based."
If the bill is passed the group fear that it will send the message that vaping is as harmful as smoking, deterring smokers from making the switch to e-cigarettes, which Public Health England say are at least 95% safer than tobacco.