"We have worked so hard in Wales to try and bear down on the harm that smoking does,” said Drakeford on announcing the proposed ban, “and allowing e-cigarettes to be used in the way they currently are risks undoing the progress that has been made.”
The announcement drew comment from a host of important bodies. Cancer Research said: “Currently there is insufficient evidence to introduce a ban on the use of e-cigarettes in enclosed public spaces or workspaces.”
The Royal College of Physicians added: “There is no evidence that smoking e-cigarettes in enclosed spaces poses a significant risk to other people, and on the basis of available evidence, the RCP anticipates that electronic cigarettes and related products could actually generate significant falls in the prevalence of smoking in the UK, prevent many deaths and episodes of serious illness, and help to reduce the social inequalities in health that tobacco-smoking currently exacerbates.”
Meanwhile, Professor Robert West commented: “I completely understand his [Mark Drakeford, Health Minister] moral position when it comes to smoking but in my opinion he, and the Welsh government, are being misled by a barrage of anti e-cigarette propagandists. Here in England we have published survey results that show there is not a skerrick of evidence to support the argument that e-cigarettes encourage smoking. I would still argue that the opposite is the case; the benefits far outweigh the perceived negatives.”
ECITA add to the attack on Drakeford’s misguided propositions with the release of their report titled Banning E-cigarettes in public places: The unintended harm to smokers and to non-smokers.
They have taken the Welsh government’s own data and presented findings that they say, “could be extremely costly to Welsh citizens”. The headline figures are that “Welsh citizens as a whole” could be “losing almost 84,000 (quality adjusted) years of life, and the loss of the equivalent of over £5 billion.”
The figures result from projected relapses of vapers going back to smoking and for smokers who have the incentive to quit removed from them. The tables make for grim reading but it remains to be seen if Drakeford will finally flex from his obstinate position.