Mark Drakeford, the Welsh Health Minister, has long been seeking for a full ban on e-cigarettes in enclosed public spaces, but has met much opposition. This culminatined at the end of December when he unable to garner enough support in the Assembly, leading to him describing the proposed compromise bill as "messy".
Now, Welsh Liberal Democrat AM Peter Black has presented a strong case for why it would be a mistake for the Welsh Government to ban e-cigarettes in pubs, clubs and restaurants across the country.
Peter Black an AM for the Liberal Democrats, spoke at length in interview with Wales Online, laying out the depth and weight of the opposition to Mark Drakeford's proposals using evidence-led studies both specific to Wales, and internationally.
The Liberal Democract AM argues that although, “E-cigarettes are not harmless nor are they risk-free – very few things are – but they do offer a route to a healthier lifestyle.”
An expert independent evidence review published In August by Public Health England concluded that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful to health than tobacco and have the potential to help smokers quit smoking.
Futhermore, AM Peter Black argues the Welsh Government led by the Health Minister “are rushing into legislation without having done their homework so as to justify their ban.”
Mr Black referred to a number of studies in the interview, including a commissioned report by the Welsh Government, which found that almost every-single respondent to its survey, that asked if people had previously been tobacco-users prior to trying e-cigarettes, said yes.
Of the 3,565 people aged 16 and older, less than 1% of adults said they were at any point e-cigarette users and had never smoked before and of those who are currently using e-cigarettes not one person said they had never smoked before.
Mr Black argues that the Welsh Government however, initially began by wanting to introduce the same restrictions on the use of e-cigarettes in public as apply to cigarettes.
“When the smoking ban was introduced in Wales there was very clear evidence as to the harmful impact of second-hand smoke on people’s health. I sat on a cross-party committee that spent months looking at the research and listening to expert testimony before backing that ban. There is no such evidence with regards to e-cigarettes.”
Public support for banning e-cigarettes in public places is heavily against the proposal with over 79% of respondents to a national survey opposed to a ban, and Mr Black also says that “Both Cancer Research UK and ASH Wales have warned that the e-cigarette ban could be a backwards step in the fight to reduce smoking rates.”
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