Welsh Gov’t Mulls Over E-cig Restrictions

Several months ago, a huge study of Welsh teenagers showed that, as expected, while many teenagers had tried vaping at some point in their lives, few of them actually stuck with it. What’s more, the study showed that vaping played basically no role as a gateway towards smoking analog cigarettes; only a minuscule (and I mean minuscule, as in 0.3%) proportion of teens who had never smoked ended up vaping, despite the fact that in absolute numbers, half of the teens who had never smoked had tried vaping at some point. Practically all current smokers had been introduced to smoking via, you guessed it, analog cigarettes. Of course, all such studies eventually end up being disseminated as some sort of evidence against vaping; really, as long as the study shows that some teenagers vape, that’s been enough proof for most public health activists and media advocates of the potential of e-cigs to become a gateway towards lifelong tobacco use.

Well, in a possibly related development, Wales is now looking to begin treating vaping much the same as smoking; in an effort to ward off the renormalization of smoking, the Welsh government seems poised to install a ban on vaping in all indoor public spaces, bringing vaping in line with the use of all “other” tobacco products. The Welsh Public Health Bill, introduced June 8th by Mark Drakeford, Welsh Minister for Health and Social Services, will also implement new licensing procedures for tobacco and nicotine product retailers, acupuncturists, tattoo parlors, and so on alongside its anti-vaping provisions. As we’ve seen time and time again, this bill is some sort of agglomeration of stray public health policies, many of which are totally justified and non-controversial. Placing a ban on indoor vaping among such policies seems a little unfair, as doing so makes it more difficult to oppose the vaping provision without threatening the overall survival of an otherwise decent bill.

In support of the proposed ban on the indoor use of electronic cigarettes, Mark Drakeford stated that he believes these provisions “will help prevent e-cigarettes re-normalising smoking, prevent them acting as a gateway product to tobacco, and prevent their use from undermining the existing ban on smoking in enclosed public places and workplaces.” Of course, the main goal of the existing ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces is supposedly to prevent damage to others caused by second-hand smoke, a goal which would not be undermined by a failure to extend these limitations to vapers, but never mind. It’s clear that the operative motivation behind this bill is not logical reasoning, but rather a desire to hide vaping from the public eye altogether, because vaping is kind of uncouth. Oh, and a quick look at the bill also shows that, in its current formulation, it would also give Welsh Ministers the authority to extend the ban to “certain open spaces,” which can basically mean, well, anything.

Happy vaping!

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