Drakeford’s Back

Posted 14th November 2018 by Dave Cross
The Welsh anti-vaping boogieman has returned following two quiet years. Mark Drakeford is campaigning to become the leader of Welsh Labour and is pushing for a vape ban all over again. His last attempt to push this through the Welsh assembly met with a humiliating defeat – but he’s picked up the old drum and is tapping away furiously once more.

People who’ve managed to swap smoking for vaping since 2016 will not have heard of his previous attempts to ignore science and evidence as he attempted to push a ban on vaping in public areas through the Assembly.

At a Welsh Health and Social Care committee meeting in 2015, Drakeford declared “that electronic cigs should be regulated as a medicine”.

As he pushed for his clampdown, Drakeford lamented that moves to medicalise vaping in the EU, during the debates prior to the TPD being agreed, were not successful: “If they had succeeded there would be no need for the proposals put forward in this bill. They would have been regulated as a medicine and the dangers that are potentially there from them being used in a recreational way would not apply.”

He is a man who still resolutely believes in vaping being a potential health crisis in the making, and that it offers a real gateway into smoking. In announcing his plans he said: “you start with an e-cigarette and end up with a real cigarette and there is evidence of that.”

Unfortunately The 2015 Welsh Health Survey hit him squarely in the face like a giant custard pie. As reported by Wales Online, the “survey can't find a single regular user that has never smoked.” Not one. Not only was there no gateway – there were no farm animals, an absence of tractors and the field had been concreted over and turned into a shopping complex.

In 2016, Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said at the end of the drawn out fact-finding process: “The evidence presented to the committee has been clear that this ban would have an adverse impact on the health of vapers, many of whom use e-cigs as a tool to give up smoking. I’m confused as to how Labour has come to a completely opposing view from the same evidence. Forcing vapers outside to use their e-cigs with tobacco smokers will subject them to passive smoke, making the task of those who are vaping in order to give up smoking much more difficult.”

At the end of the evidence-gathering process, and after much deliberation, the committee was split along political lines. Drakeford was hopeful a deal could be struck with Plaid on a different matter so he could force through his policy baby.

But Drakeford failed.

In the last act of the Assembly before closing for summer, he lost the vote and was demoted.

Today, the BBC reports that he is back, pushing to become leader of Welsh Labour – and that he still wants to see a ban on vaping in all city and town centres as part of an extension to the current smoking ban.

Two years and he’s learnt nothing.

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker