New amendments to the controversial ban on the use of e-cigarettes public places in Wales has led Welsh Lib Dem leader AM Kirsty Williams to describe the revised proposal as ‘clear as mud'.
Initially, the Welsh Government had planned to ban e-cigarettes from all enclosed work and public places as part of the Public Health Bill; however, towards the end of last year, Health Minister Mark Drakeford was forced to back down from his initial plans after failing to gather enough support for the legislation.
Amendments to the bill were passed at the end of January at the Assembly’s health and social care committee, with a list of places where a ban on vaping would exist now published.
If the bill is eventually passed by the Assembly, which is rumoured to be some way away, electronic cigarettes would be banned in a variety of enclosed spaces including:
- Train and bus stations, ticket offices, waiting rooms and buildings connected with public transport vehicles
- Any part of a building used for childcare, including parts of hospitals and youth detention centres
- Schools, colleges and universities during teaching hours
- Food establishments, such as diners, restaurants, pubs serving meals but not ‘wet pubs’ and cafes
Vaping would be banned in hospitals, but rules could mean managers would be able to create ‘e-cig zones’ for things including medical use.
However end-of-life hospices, people’s homes, and adult care homes are specifically excluded.
The changes to the bill now mean that the hugely complex move to restrict e-cigarette use in people’s homes if they are also workplaces has been removed, unless those workplaces are used for childcare.
The list proposed by ministers was agreed seven votes to three by the Assembly’s health and social care committee.
Clwyd West AM Darren Millar who voted against the list described the proposed ban as “draconian”, with it instead of achieving the desired aims - discourage people from switching to e-cigarettes as they try to give up smoking.
Mr Millar has received party support from Conservative AM Dr Altaf Hussain and across party lines from Welsh Lib Dem leader AM Kirsty Williams.
Mr Millar also argued that: “Many ‘wet-pubs’ serve pickled eggs, pork scratchings, packets of crisps on the bar. Are these included within the ban or not?”
Mrs Williams said the list of places where people could vape was “as clear as mud”; arguing that: “Just because the minister has made a separation in law of the difference between tobacco and e-cigarettes does not mean that that’s how the public will view it”
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