Health officials are calling for a ban on the sale of confectionary-like flavours in e-cigarettes over concerns they appeal to children.
Public Health Wales said it could potentially lead to nicotine addiction in adult life.
It recommends restrictions on advertising e-cigarettes in all media regularly viewed by children.
A vaping company said it should be able to market itself as an “alternative to smoking”.
There are also calls for restrictions on the use of e-cigarettes in and around school grounds and a register of retailers to be set up to prevent their sale to under 18s.
E-cigarettes deliver nicotine within an inhalable aerosol by heating a solution that typically contains nicotine, propylene glycol and or glycerol, and are available in a variety of flavours.
Ashley Gould from Public Health Wales (PHW) said: “You can buy bubblegum, candyfloss, jam doughnut flavour e-cigarettes and they are only aimed at one audience – and that’s about recruiting children.”
PHW said while the health risks associated with e-cigarettes were significantly lower than cigarettes “they are not without risk.”
It said the potential risks were:
Mimicking smoking a cigarette, which could play a role in normalising smoking behaviour
May reduce the likelihood of smokers quitting by displacing proven methods
Potentially acting as a gateway to tobacco use
The potential benefits e-cigarettes can have on smokers were also identified.
The UK’s Royal College of Physicians previously said they should be offered to smokers to help them quit.
Mr Gould said for people who are smoking and want to continue to do so, they would “100% advocate making the switch to e-cigarettes because it’s less harmful than continuing to smoke”.
Joe Bevan, director at Celtic Vapours, said he would like to be able to market his product “as an alternative to smoking.”
“We’re not nicotine replacement therapy and we’re not smoking,” he added.
He said the vapour e-cigarettes give off is “no more dangerous than the actual air we breathe on a daily basis.
“Our emissions tests have shown if you stand by a busy road you will inhale more toxins.”
Public Health Wales has today (26 January) published its updated position statement providing advice to the public about the potential impacts of e-cigarettes on health.
The updated advice says that, for children and young people and non-smoking adults, the use of e-cigarettes is likely to be harmful to health.
Current smokers who want to quit are advised to find out about the range of help available to them and choose the approach that is best for them. This help includes proven NHS services like Stop Smoking Wales and community pharmacies.
The advice for committed smokers who can’t or won’t quit is that switching completely to e-cigarettes will significantly benefit their health.
Dr Julie Bishop, Director of Health Improvement for Public Health Wales, said:
“We recognise that there are a lot of confusing and contradictory messages around e-cigarettes. This is because there isn’t one simple answer – it is different for different groups of the population.
“In simple terms, if you don’t smoke, don’t vape. But if you are a committed smoker who is unwilling or unable to quit, switching completely to e-cigarettes will be beneficial to your health.”
Public Health Wales is committed to a smoke-free and nicotine-free Wales in the longer term.
The new position statement was approved at a meeting of the Public Health Wales Board today.
A Police Force should be left to focus on solving widespread under-staffing problems rather than having to enforce matters relating to public health, a staff association claims.
The Health Minister for Northern Ireland, Simon Hamilton, is trying to introduce legislation that will make it an offence to smoke in a vehicle in which under-18s are present.
A similar law was passed in England and Wales in October.
But the Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI) argues that policing the ban will be difficult in the current climate, as its officers are already over-stretched.
The PFNI told Police Professional: “We are already seriously under-staffed, and if officers are to have additional responsibility enforcing this new measure, there will be an inevitable impact on other duties.
“The law has to be upheld, but the issue becomes one of where and how that task is accomplished.”
The PFNI has pointed out that as things are, there is little possibility of acquiring the funding necessary to expand the service.
Many forces in the UK already face under-staffing, a fact not helped by cuts to police funding over the last five years. In Northern Ireland, plans were announced last September to cut more than £5.6 million from police overtime budgets.
Former PFNI Chair Terry Spence warned last year that from “ground and command level” everyone was struggling “to deliver a proper police service.”
He said at the time: “We are so desperate for more officers that if it’s a question of money then the time has come to reconsider the £140 million being spent on a training centre at Desertcreat to recruit a mere 168 officers.”
And by 2018/19 the force will face a £104 million funding gap, which will render the cost of recruiting new officers completely unaffordable.
Police opinion in England and Wales appears to favour the view of the PFNI. Derbyshire Constabulary Chief Constable Mick Creedon said that imposing the ban can “never be a priority” for officers.
“The few traffic officers I have will be concentrating on the causes of serious and fatal collisions, such as drink-driving, while my other staff are tackling child sexual exploitation and cybercrime,” he warned earlier this year.
In England and Wales, anyone found to be in breach of this law will be subjected to a fine of £50. However, the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s official policy is not to enforce these.
The PFNI said that it does appreciate the health issues behind the legislation. Its reservations are based only on the practicality of carrying out the proposed ban.
A study by the Northern Irish Chest, Heart and Stroke association found that 82 per cent of people polled were in favour of implementing a ban on smoking in cars.
However, opponents claim that the legislation invades people’s privacy and personal freedom.
Smokers’ group Forest claims that “the overwhelming majority of adult smokers self-regulate when it comes to smoking in cars with children”.
Another report from the Health and Safety Executive found that 15 per cent of adults smoke in their cars even if their children are present. These children can face serious health issues brought on by exposure to second hand smoke.
In an unventilated vehicle, passengers can be exposed to over 200 times the recommended safety level of the toxins found in cigarette smoke.
These children could face increased risks of asthma, meningitis and even cot death.
Children are particularly susceptible to these conditions as they breathe more quickly than adults and proportionally they inhale a higher volume of dangerous substances, the report said.
Scotland will decide next year whether or not it wants to enforce this ban. The Republic of Ireland has already approved the legislation, but as of yet is still to implement it.
A DOZEN public health and smoking cessation experts are urging AMs to resist proposals for a ban on the use of e-cigarettes in enclosed and substantially enclosed public places in Wales.
Such a ban is the centrepiece of the Public Health (Wales) Bill, to be debated in the Senedd this afternoon (TUE).
But the idea has proved controversial and is meeting with an increasing tide of opposition, including from a number of organisations and individuals with expertise in smoking issues.
“There is no evidence to justify the legislation regarding electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and if passed it will discourage rather than encourage smokers to switch from smoking to e-cigarettes, with a negative impact on public health in Wales,” states the letter,” which has been sent to AMs.
“We urge you to consider carefully the provisions of the Bill.”
‘We’ includes Gerry Stimson, Emeritus Professor of Social Science and Medicine at Imperial College, London; Paul Aveyard, Professor at the Behavioural Medicine
Department of Primary Care Health Sciences at Oxford University; Dr Jamie Brown, deputy director of the Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group at University College, London; and Ann McNeill, Professor of Tobacco Addiction at the National Addiction Centre, King’s College, London.
The signatories describe as “disappointing” a recent failure by the Assembly’s health and social care committee to reach a consensus view on the idea of a ban, and state: “We want to make it clear that the provisions in this Bill relating to e-cigarettes are not evidence based.”
If passed, they fear a ban will send a message that e-cigarettes are as harmful as tobacco cigarettes and should be dealt with in the same way as smoking tobacco.
It would also, they contend, act as a deterrent to the use of e-cigarettes by current users by treating them the same way as smokers.
Health minister Mark Drakeford has stated that e-cigarettes might act as a gateway to the uptake of smoking – and may normalise the rituals of smoking – for the young.
Smoking in a car where children are present will be made illegal in Wales after Assembly Members passed landmark legislation.
The new law will come into effect in less than four months’ time and could see those breaking it hit with a £50 fine or even a court appearance.
AMs ratified the Welsh Government policy this evening by a majority of 46 to 1 at a key vote in the Senedd.
Critics say the move is too heavy-handed and fear it could pave the way for banning smokers from lighting up in their own home.
But Health Minister Mark Drakeford said there was compelling evidence against the dangers of second hand smoke and the new law would help protect children’s health.
He said: “Some people believe that opening the window of a car will help disperse smoke but in reality it simply blows back in. It causes a real and substantial threat to children’s health.
“Children cannot escape from the toxic chemicals contained in second-hand smoke when travelling in cars. They often don’t have a choice over whether or not they travel in cars and may not feel able to ask an adult to stop smoking.
“As with the existing smoke-free regulations, success will not be based on the number of enforcement actions that are taken but by how behaviour, attitudes and health outcomes change over time.”
Legislation banning smoking in enclosed public places was introduced in Wales in 2007. However, while the law covered public and work vehicles it did not extend to private vehicles.
The new regulations will make it an offence to smoke in an enclosed private vehicle when more than one person is present, at least one of whom is under the age of 18, and for a driver to fail to prevent smoking in such circumstances.
The Labour-controlled Welsh Government believes legislation is necessary after its public health campaign Fresh Start Wales failed to produce the results officials had hoped for.
A spokesman said: “Results of research carried out during the campaign show the number of children exposed to second-hand smoke in cars decreased; but regrettably they also show there remains a cohort of adults who continue to smoke in vehicles when children are present with 17% of children from poorer families more likely to report that smoking was allowed in their car compared to 7% of those from more affluent families.”
Several health and children’s groups welcomed the new law.
Dr Mair Parry, Officer for Wales at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: “This is an historic vote and a victory for child health. There is growing medical evidence of the damage cigarette smoke can do to children – including asthma, chest infections, ear problems and cot death – and frighteningly smoke in cars can be up to 11 times more concentrated than in a smoky bar.”
The British Lung Foundation also described the move as “a tremendous victory” for the “thousands of children being exposed to second-hand smoke every week”.
However, while the overwhelming majority of AMs voted in favour of the legislation there was concern in the Siambr among some opposition AMs.
Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams said the issue of “banning behaviour” was a complex one.
“At what point do we say that people cannot smoke in front of children within their own home?”, she added.
And party colleague Peter Black said he would not be voting in favour of the law.
Pro-smoking group Forest branded the new law as “heavy handed”.
A spokesman said: “The overwhelming majority of smokers know that smoking in cars is inconsiderate and don’t do it.
“Education has to be better than legislation but the government prefers gesture politics and the big stick.”
The ban will come into effect on October 1 – the same day similar measures are being implemented in England.
Joseph Carter, head of the British Lung Foundation in Wales, said: “Today’s vote marks a monumental triumph for children’s health in Wales. After years of campaigning on this issue, we are glad that common sense has prevailed and that, as of October 2015, children in Wales will no longer be subjected to toxic smoke in the small confines of a car.
“With almost half a million children being exposed to second-hand smoke in the family car every week in the UK, it is right that Wales is joining England in supporting such a ground-breaking public health measure. We now look to our neighbours in Scotland and Northern Ireland to offer their children this same protection.”
To examine the prevalence of electronic(e)-cigarette use, prevalence of e-cigarette and tobacco use by age, and associations of e-cigarette use with sociodemographic characteristics, tobacco and cannabis use among young people in Wales.
Data from two nationally-representative cross-sectional surveys undertaken in 2013–2014. Logistic regression analyses, adjusting for school-level clustering, examined sociodemographic characteristics of e-cigarette use, and associations between e-cigarette use and smoking.
Primary and secondary schools in Wales.
Primary-school children aged 10–11 (n=1601) and secondary-school students aged 11–16 (n=9055).
Primary-school children were more likely to have used e-cigarettes (5.8%) than tobacco (1.6%). Ever use of e-cigarettes remained more prevalent than ever use of tobacco until age 14–15. Overall, 12.3% of secondary-school students (aged 11–16) reported ever using e-cigarettes, with no differences according to gender, ethnicity or family affluence. The percentage of ‘never smokers’ reporting having used e-cigarettes was 5.3% at age 10–11 to 8.0% at age 15–16. The proportion of children who had ever used an e-cigarette and reported currently smoking increased from 6.9% among 10–11 year olds to 39.2% in 15–16 year olds. Only 1.5% (n=125) of 11–16 year-olds, including 0.3% of never smokers, reported regular e-cigarette use (use at least once a month). Current weekly smokers were 100 times more likely than non-smokers to report regular e-cigarette use (relative risk ratio (RRR=121.15; 95% CI 57.56 to 254.97). Regular e-cigarette use was also more likely among those who had smoked cannabis (RRR 53.03; 95% CI 38.87 to 80.65).
Many young people (including never-smokers) have tried e-cigarettes. However, regular use is less common, and is associated with tobacco cigarette use. Longitudinal research is needed to understand age-related trajectories of e-cigarette use and to understand the temporal nature of relationships between e-cigarette and tobacco use.
The House of Commons in a 367-113 bipartisan vote opted to introduce uniform packaging for cigarettes and hand-rolled tobaccos, setting the stage for final parliamentary approval on 16 March, the Guardian reported.
Plain packaging would mandate a standard green/brown colour and limit branding on packs that mostly would display graphic health warnings. Approval in the House of Lords for a bill that currently applies only to England is expected, the newspaper said on its website. Regional authorities in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland also are expected to adopt the plain packaging provisions.
Major tobacco companies have said they will contest standardised packaging in the courts, both in the UK and in Ireland, which earlier this week became the second country after Australia to approve plain packs. Two court challenges are pending against the Australian law. The UK version would take effect in May, 2016. In Ireland full implementation is planned one year later.
“This legislation is a case of the UK government taking property from a UK business without paying for it. That is illegal under both UK and European law”, said Jerome Abelman, corporate and regulatory affairs director at British American Tobacco. “Legal action is not something we want to undertake, nor is it something we enter into lightly – but the UK Government has left us with no other choice.”
A plan to let MPs vote on introducing plain packaging for cigarettes has been welcomed by the Welsh government.
The UK government said it would offer MPs a free vote before May’s general election on the measure, which doctors said could save thousands of lives.
Assembly members voted in January 2014 to accept any UK law on the issue.
Health Minister Mark Drakeford said: “We have always supported measures to introduce plain packaging for tobacco products.”
“Such a move could play an important part in our efforts to tackle the harm associated with tobacco use,” he added.