The no smoking policy was enforced on the Underground after the 1987 Kings Cross fire disaster and was gradually rolled out to cover the whole of London Underground and Transport For London’s network.
Vaping, going under the label of Electronic Smoking Devices, was included in the ban from August this year although not rigorously enforced. This is now being implemented on all TfL routes.
Justification for this is provided by Jil Collis, TFL’s director of Health, Safety and Environment, who said: “This would mitigate any residual potential fire risk and reduce the potential for staff assault by providing clarity and consistency in the treatment of all customers using our services.”
The protection from residual fire risks does not currently include a ban on cellphones, laptops or any of the many other devices also using lithium-ion batteries.
Although documented medical evidence is thin on the ground, linking vaping to acts of violence, vapers must surely welcome TfL’s stance that we are now all being treated equally.
Vaping at bus stops is still permitted under the new regulations but vaping on a bus, tube or train, in stations, platforms and depots is punishable by fine. A member of staff will first warn offenders; repeated offending will lead to a fine being imposed.
TfL state that there have been no complaints from the public as a result of this new policy and that no fines have been issued so far.
Demonstrating the firm grasp TfL have on the whole issue, they state that the main benefit to the public will be eradicating ex-smokers from “smoking” in bus depots.
The move to ban vaping from public places is being replicated globally. The University of Montreal banned vaping this week, banning it inside and within 9 metres from any doorway. As with the TfL action little thought was given to the actual science, the policy was enacted based on perception. Alexandre Chabot, general secretary of the UoM said: “It is not for us to decide on the benefits or harm of electronic cigarettes as tobacco substitute, but take into consideration the inconvenience caused.”