Mark Pawsey opened up the session with a question: “Has the UK become vape unfriendly?”
Andrew Allison felt “nothing has changed”. Employers may have put policies in place but, by and large, the easy route was taken and, in something Andrew would come back to later, some organisations aren’t delivering on their initial promises.
Martin Cullip took up the baton and he pressed on the need to not treat vaping like smoking. In what became a familiar theme for the session, business owners and venue managers appear to have simply rolled any existing policy across to vaping – an example of this can be seen in our article this week about vaping, NHS Trusts and the NNA.
With the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) panel member unable to attend, Andy Tighe found himself defending business practices across the land rather than just speaking for the British Beer and Pub Association: “Lots of pubs have bans on vaping and smoking. It could be due to chain policy, it could be consideration for other customers.”
Outside the weather shifted. A couple of degrees dropped from the thermometer, the wind picked up and there was the smell of a storm in the air. It became slightly frosty inside. Mark Pawsey interjected, “How can a customer know if a pub allows vaping or not?”
Tighe came back with an obvious albeit dismissive reply: “There is no blanket scheme, you can ask a member of staff.”
The BBPA has consistently argued that individual publicans should be responsible for what they will and won’t allow on premises. Yes, we vapers could ask a member of staff in every place we ever visit if we can do something that doesn’t cause harm to others (just offence to a few).
Mark Pawsey took issue with this proposition and opened it up to a show of hands: The majority of the audience who vape objected to having to ask in every pub if vaping was acceptable.
Pawsey explained how there are two vaping areas in parliament and neither of them are easily accessible. He said how the person he shares an office with goes off for a long walk, has a couple of puffs, then returns – but by this time he fancies another vape because “vapers self-titrate”.
He explained to Andy Tighe that he was awarded with a plaque last year and he now displays in his office so that visitors know it’s ok to vape. A simple measure that gets around anybody having to ask for permission.
Martin Cullip had no issue with BBPA members implementing their own policies. The problem here, he explained, is that those policies need to come from “informed positions”.
Martin expounded that replies demonstrate a clear lack of understanding of either the legal position or the science: “All too often I’m told it’s because it’s illegal.”
Pawsey asked: “Is it because people are being lazy, taking the smoking policy and say that will do for vapers as well?”
Tighe said that it was something the BBPA could address, which made Pawsey wonder how. He noted that the industry is blocked from promoting the healthier aspect of vaping, and wondered aloud how the message could be got through to businesses.
Andrew Allison mentioned that he was working on a leaflet and that might offer a potential solution, something Tighe felt open to – and added that if a body like Cancer Research UK could get on board it would hold a lot of sway, as publicans respect the word of charities over that of politicians or ‘experts’.
Of course, the potential for wider use of ecigs in pubs comes down to the subject of considerate vaping. Andrew Allison added that inconsiderate vaping almost makes him not want to be a libertarian.
It would have been nice to hear if ACAS plan on updating their information to business owners, something they haven’t done since 2013. Hopefully this will have been corrected well before next year’s forum.