E-cigarette ban would enforce "overly proscriptive" additional no-smoking signs

By Oli Gross contact

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E-cigarette ban would enforce "overly proscriptive" additional no-smoking signs

Related tags: Nicotine, Tobacco, Bbpa

Legislation preventing e-cigarette smoking in Welsh pubs would be over proscriptive, unnecessary, costly and burdensome, the British Beer and Pub Association has claimed.

To respond to the Welsh Government’s consultation on the bill which would make e-cigarette smoking illegal in enclosed public spaces from 2017, the BBPA states it believes individual pubs should decide whether or not they permit the use of e-cigarettes, and fears new legislation could “discourage customers from visiting venues”.

Overly proscriptive

The statement criticises a section of the plan demanding pubs display no e-cigarette smoking sign, which would need to be displayed in addition to the standard no smoking sign.

Regulations could proscribe the size, wording, colour and design of such signs.

The BBPA added: “Not only is this requirement overly proscriptive, it also cuts across the wider de-regulation agenda in respect of licensed premises – with the UK Government recently abolishing the requirement for specific no-smoking signs.”

The regulations would “increase bureaucracy”, the BBPA added.

The Department of Health has told the PMA ​there is no plan to extend the ban to England.

Costly and burdensome

In its consultation response the BBPA also criticises plans to charge pubs to join a register for retailers of tobacco products as. 

Pubs sell tobacco products for convenience of customers who may otherwise leave, the BBPA claims.

“Therefore, it would be costly and burdensome on small businesses to force pubs to pay a registration fee in this situation,” the statement adds.

Public Health England fuelled criticism of the plan, with findings that e-cigarette smoking is 95% less harmful than tobacco smoking.

The BBPA’s full response to the consultation is detailed below.

Do you agree that the use of e-cigarettes should be banned in enclosed public and work places in Wales, as is currently the case for smoking tobacco?

No. The BBPA is of the view that it is up to individual pub premises to decide whether or not they will permit the use of e-cigarettes, given they are a legal product with no evidence that they cause harm to either the user or others in an enclosed environment. Please see the recent report by Public Health England for further information.

On a practical level, we do recognise in some cases it can be difficult for some publicans to identify real, as opposed to e-cigarettes, and they could cause concern for other customers. A number of managed pubs have already banned their use as this is a head office-level decision, but in tenanted estates and freehouses which make up the majority of pubs) it is at the discretion of individual licensees. This freedom to decide on a premises-by-premises basis should be retained as many licensees may wish to allow the use of e-cigarettes in their premises if they so choose.

Therefore we do not support the legislation as drafted, as it add a further layer of regulation on business (in the case of the majority of pubs, small businesses), and in some cases could indeed discourage customers from visiting venues and remain at home to use e-cigarettes.

A particular proposal in the Bill which will increase bureaucracy is contained in s.11, setting out a requirement for signage to be displayed informing customers that e-cigarettes prohibited in the premises. The legislation stipulates that regulations may be made to proscribe the size, wording, colour and design of such signs. Not only is this requirement overly proscriptive, it also cuts across the wider de-regulation agenda in respect of licensed premises – with the UK Government recently abolishing the requirement for specific no-smoking signs in premises which this Bill seeks to re-introduce for the purposes of e-cigarettes. The situation would arise where in effect two different signs (one for tobacco smoking indoors, and one for e-cigarettes) would have to be displayed inside pubs in Wales.

Do you believe the provisions in the Bill will achieve a balance between the potential benefits to smokers wishing to quit with any potential dis-benefits related to the use of e-cigarettes?

We would highlight again that the evidence of significant risks related to e-cigarettes is very low (either to users or the general public), as highlighted in a recent report by Public Health England.

Key findings of the review include:

• the current best estimate is that e-cigarettes are around 95% less harmful than smoking;

• nearly half the population (44.8%) don’t realise e-cigarettes are much less harmful than smoking;

• There is no evidence so far that e-cigarettes are acting as a route into smoking for children or non-smokers.

The comprehensive review of the evidence finds that almost all of the 2.6 million adults using e-cigarettes in Great Britain are current or ex-smokers, most of whom are using the devices to help them quit smoking or to prevent them going back to cigarettes. It also provides reassurance that very few adults and young people who have never smoked are becoming regular e-cigarette users (less than 1% in each group).

We do not believe evidence has been presented as part of this consultation to contradict the above, and therefore bring in legislation which will affect businesses. We strongly support the right for pub licensees to choose whether or not to allow e-cigarettes in their premises.

Do you agree with the proposal to establish a national register of retailers of tobacco and nicotine products?

No. Public houses can legally sell tobacco products. However many do not, and those that do decide to stock tobacco products tend to provide only limited quantities of items such as cigarettes, cigars, rolling paper etc. and is not usually part of core trade, but provides a convenient service to customers who do wish to purchase tobacco who otherwise may leave the premises.

Therefore, it would be costly and burdensome on small businesses to force pubs to pay a registration fee in this situation, especially as the suggested structure of one flat rate per registration (as proposed in the White Paper) would apply to a pub as to a retailer with a high proportion of tobacco sales. If there is to be a register it should be free (as in Scotland) and there is little evidence such a register would even be effective.

Related topics: Legislation

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