Labour MP for Rother Valley, Sir Kevin Barron, who has fought for a ban on smoking tobacco in pubs and public places throughout his political career, said any decisions made to restrict the use of e-cigarettes was a big negative.
“I think they [e-cigarettes] should be playing a larger part in smoking cessation,” he told a Chartered Institute of Environmental Health conference in Nottingham yesterday (20 October).
He added: “The Welsh ban on vaping indoors [which will go ahead in 2017] makes no sense and then there’s Swansea’s [plans] too.
“People smoke for nicotine, but die from tar. E-cigarettes are not risk-free, but they are 95% safer than cigarettes.
‘Get some common sense’
“We need to get some common sense on where and when they can be used and we need a big joined-up approach.”
Earlier this year the Royal Society for Public Health pressed for the public smoking ban to be extended to beer gardens and to outside restaurants, parks and school gates.
The Welsh Government’s Public Health Bill allows Welsh ministers to outlaw smoking in public places. Priority has been placed on creating smoke-free hospitals, school grounds and children’s play areas.
While Swansea Council hadn’t yet made a decision about smoking or the use of e-cigarettes in public places, it wanted to encourage a debate about voluntary smoke-free public spaces, it said.
A spokesman explained: “Prevention is better than cure and if we can discourage people from smoking cigarettes or using e-cigarettes in public places, it’ll help encourage the next generation of potential smokers not to take up either habit in the first place.”
Didn’t agree with Swansea Council
Peter Black, assembly member for South Wales, disagreed with Swansea Council’s inclusion of e-cigarettes in its consultation.
He said: “I am surprised that Swansea Council has included e-cigarettes in their consultation on banning smoking in public places.
“In doing so, they are equating vaping with smoking and failing to recognise the role that e-cigarettes have had in helping people to give up tobacco.
“I understand that some people may object to e-cigarettes in the same way as they do to tobacco. However, there is no evidence of any harm to others from the water vapour that emanates from e-cigarettes and the council should not encourage people to believe differently.
“I am not and have never been a smoker, but I recognise the role that e-cigarettes play in helping people to give up and that helps people become fitter and reduces demand for health and social services, meaning resources can be directed elsewhere. I would hope that the council might have recognised that.”