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The Welsh government has launched a consultation on proposals to address a number of public health issues in Wales, including the use of electronic cigarettes, commonly referred to as ‘vaping’ (inhaling vapour instead of smoke).
There are currently no legal restrictions on the use of e-cigarettes, but it is proposed that the use of e-cigarettes should be banned in enclosed and substantially enclosed public places and workplaces, treating e-cigarettes no differently to tobacco cigarettes. The proposals are broadly in line with the new EU Tobacco Products Directive which, in 2016, will bring e-cigarettes more in line with tobacco products across the EU.
The Welsh Government’s key concerns are that e-cigarettes are ‘normalising’ smoking behaviour and may act as an introduction to the use of tobacco cigarettes. They also indicate that there are ‘suggestions’ that people seeing others using e-cigarettes ‘may’ mistakenly believe that they are permitted to smoke in premises where smoking is prohibited, although none of these concerns or suggestions are supported by any evidence.
There are also concerns that the unrestricted use of e-cigarettes makes it more difficult to enforce the current ban on smoking because it is difficult to spot, from a distance, whether someone is smoking an e-cigarette or a ‘real’ cigarette.
If the proposals are implemented it is likely that Wales will start to see separate smoking and vaping areas in places such as pubs and clubs, to protect ‘vapers’ from second hand smoke.
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