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Health experts urge AMs to drop e-cigarette ban plan

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.

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