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Sheffield’s Dull Legislative Blade

Council officials in the Steel City are knifing tobacco harm reduction by pushing a policy to treat vaping the same as smoking

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Smoking is banned indoors, but when it comes to pubs the government left the door open for landlords to make their own decisions. This isn’t good enough for some Sheffield puritans and they have been pushing for something that is at least 95% safer than smoking to be treated in the same manner.

Council officials changed the wording of the new draft statement of licensing policy, saying that vaping, “isn’t unlawful, just treated in the same way as smoking”.

Councillor Mick Rooney was quoted as saying: "You can’t smoke on a bus and you can’t vape on a bus, similarly on a train, so I would not support an option where we are at odds with large sections of society. One of the reasons I’m against allowing vaping in an enclosed area is because it’s largely unstudied. Nobody really knows what the long-term effects of vaping are, clearly, it’s not as dangerous as smoking because a lot of the toxic by-products of smoking aren't there. But what vaping does is actually prolong an addiction. If anyone thinks vaping is harmless, it isn’t. It doesn't solve the problem of addiction."

Councillor Rooney didn’t explain how he knows better than the NHS and Public Health England.

Councillor Cliff Woodcraft thinks that people are too stupid to understand you can’t smoke in a pub, but you can vape. He apparently said: "Life is really quite complicated for many people these days with different rules applying to different situations and I think to have an alignment with bans on public transport it should be banned elsewhere. It just gets too complicated to follow the rules."

Councillor Woodcraft doesn’t care for the lives of smokers or ex-smokers.

The NHS is very clear on the matters that seem to concern Sheffield’s elected representatives:

  • Many thousands of people in the UK have already stopped smoking with the help of an e-cigarette. There's growing evidence that they can be effective"
  • “In the UK, e-cigarettes are tightly regulated for safety and quality. They're not completely risk free, but they carry a small fraction of the risk of cigarettes"
  • “While nicotine is the addictive substance in cigarettes, it's relatively harmless"
  • “They're likely to be much less harmful to a pregnant woman and her baby than cigarettes"
  • “There's no evidence so far that vaping causes harm to other people around you

Councillor Otten is reported as being a lone voice of reason: “It’s my view that vaping should generally be allowed on the premises and therefore vapers don’t have to stand outside in the shelter and breathe in second-hand smoke to the detriment of their health and causing noise to the detriment of neighbours.”

Councillors Rooney and Woodcraft don’t need your vote at the next election, Sheffield.


  • NHS, Electronic Cigarettes – [link]

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Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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