Questions raised over whether e-cigarettes lead to smoking after survey can't find a single regular user that has never smoked

Welsh Government

Freshly published research undertaken by the Welsh Health Government has cast huge doubts on claims that e-cigarettes attract non-smokers, it has been claimed.

The Welsh Health Survey asked regular users of vaping devices if they had previously been tobacco users – and in contrast to their expectations, almost every single respondent said yes. The Welsh Health Survey was seeking to feed whether vaping encourages users to try tobacco, or attracts people who had previously never smoked to trying e-cigarettes.

The statistics have led the Liberal Democrats to claim they undermine health minister Mark Drakeford’s argument that e-cigarettes act as a gateway to smoking.

But the Welsh Government has dismissed those comments.

'Survey couldn’t find a single e-cigarette user who hadn’t previously smoked’

E-cigarettes are set to be banned in enclosed public spaces and work spaces under the Welsh Government’s Public Health Bill.

Of the 3,565 people aged 16 and older who told the Welsh Health Survey they have used e-cigarettes, only 1% said they had never smoked before.

A further 9% considered themselves “non-smokers” in the survey, which is published by the Welsh Government.

Of those who currently use e-cigarettes, not one person said they had never smoked before.

Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said: “If Labour’s claims that e-cigarettes were a gateway to tobacco were correct, we should be seeing people who have never smoked a cigarette before using e-cigs now.

“In fact, the opposite is true: Labour’s survey couldn’t find a single e-cigarette user who’s never smoked a cigarette before.

“Welsh Labour Ministers must be pretty embarrassed that their own report is undermining their own argument for a vaping ban.

“It’s about time they listened to the evidence, and the thousands of people who have supported the Welsh Lib Dems’ campaign against their proposed ban, and scrapped these illiberal and illogical proposals.”

'Proposals based on evidence across the world'

However the Welsh Government spokesman fired back by arguing that: “Our proposals are based on evidence from across the world, including peer-reviewed academic research.

“The BMA, public health professionals and others support our proposals, while the World Health Organisation and other international bodies have called for greater regulation of e-cigarettes. 40 other countries have already taken similar steps.

“Let’s be absolutely clear, our Bill does not propose to ban e-cigarettes, nor does it intend to prevent their use for smoking cessation.

“It would restrict the use of e-cigarettes in enclosed public spaces, bringing them into line with conventional cigarettes.”

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