There’s no doubt it [The Electronic Cigarette] can save many lives and hundreds of millions of pounds.
When Spain banned e-cigs in public places, e-cig sales dropped 70%.
Because of this law and the message it sends, thousands of Spanish people still smoke the cigarettes that are estimated to kill around one in two of all smokers.
Perhaps that’s why, when the Welsh government held a consultation on whether to copy the Spanish ban, 79% of those who replied were against a ban, even after hundreds of responses had been stripped out.
Those against a ban include The Royal College of Physicians, Action on Smoking and Health, Cancer Research, Cardiff University, The British Heart Foundation, Tenovus and the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies.
Despite all this, the Welsh government is pushing ahead with plans to ban e-cigs in public places in Wales.
Where Does YOUR Assembly Member Stand?
I’ve put this post together so the tens of thousands of Welsh Vapers worried about this ban can have a clear idea of where their Assembly Members (AMs) stand.
We don’t yet know all AMs positions, but as AMs and positions become clearer I’ll update this list.
To find out who your AMs are and to contact them, click here and enter your post code.
I’ve also included Twitter accounts (where I can find them) for AMs who are for the ban or are undecided, but bear in mind that while I’ve tweeted queries to most of the unknowns in this list, the majority haven’t replied.
Broadly speaking, Labour is anti-ecig and other parties are pro-ecig (with Lib Dems and Conservatives being the most outspoken), but I’ve tried not to jump to any conclusions here. As Simon Thurlow has also pointed out, Labour AMs have been evasive since the policy was announced, often refusing to give a position or sometimes even an answer on where they stand.
There are also some Labour AMs who are very uneasy about the policy to ban ecigs, but will obviously have to decide whether they are prepared to break the the party whip.
Plaid Cymru are mostly against the ban on ecigs but at least one AM remains undecided.
Can you help?
Some AMs who I’ve contacted in the past have refused to confirm their position on the basis that I was not resident in their area (the fact my company employs people in their area didn’t seem to count). Others just never replied. I’m going to be contacting AMs who have not confirmed their position, but if you can help out with the ‘unknowns’ let me know in the comments. I’d also love to hear what AMs have said to you.
For a Ban
Carwyn Jones, First Minister: (Labour, Bridgend) Twitter | Contact
Mark Drakeford, Health Minister: (Labour, Cardiff West) Twitter | Contact
John Griffiths: (Labour, Newport East) Twitter | Contact
Keith Davies (Labour, Llanelli): Appears to be against ecigs Twitter | Contact
Llyr Huws Gruffydd (Plaid Cymru, North Wales) Twitter | Contact Currently supports ban but open to evidence.
Joyce Watson (Labour, Mid and West Wales) Twitter | Contact
Vaughan Gething (Labour, Cardiff South and Penarth) Twitter | Contact Has refused to discuss stance with vapers in the past.
Lynne Neagle (Labour, Torfaen) Contact
Huw Lewis (Labour, Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney) Twitter | Contact
Angela Burns (Conservatives, Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire) Twitter | Contact
Leanne Wood (Plaid Cymru, South Wales Centra) Twitter | Contact
Julie James (Labour, Swansea West) Twitter | Contact
Rosemary Butler (Labour, Newport West) Twitter | Contact
Gwenda Thomas (Labour, Neath) Twitter | Contact
Aled Roberts (Lib Dems, North Wales) Twitter | Contact
Lesley Griffiths (Labour, Wrexham) Twitter | Contact
Edwina Hart: (Labour, Gower) Twitter | Contact Replied during original consultation but has not confirmed position
Rebecca Evans (Labour, Mid and West Wales): Twitter | Contact
William Powell (Lib Dems, Mid and West Wales) Twitter | Contact Can not publicly state a position as is chair of the petitions committee.
Rhodri Glyn Thomas (Plaid Cymru, Carmarthen East and Dinefwr): Twitter | Contact
Carl Sargent (Labour, Alyn and Deeside) Twitter | Contact
Alun Fred Jones (Labour, Arfon) Twitter | Contact
Ken Skates (Labour, Clwyd South,) Twitter | Contact
Jocelyn Davies (Plaid Cymru, South Wales East) Contact Positive comments on ecigs but no definitive indication of how she will vote yet
Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas (Plaid Cymru, Dwyfor Meirionnydd) Twitter | Contact
Gwyn Price (Labour, South Wales East) Twitter | Contact
Nick Ramsay (Conservatives, South Wales East) Twitter | Contact
Altaf Hussein (Conservatives, South Wales West) Contact
Christine Chapman (Labour, Cynon Valley) | Contact
Mick Antoniw (Labour, Pontypridd) Contact
Leighton Andrews (Labour, Rhondda) Twitter | Contact
Jane Hutt (Labour, Vale of Glamorgan) Twitter | Contact
Paul Davies (Conservatives, Preseli Pembrokeshire) Contact
Sandy Mewies (Labour, North Wales) Twitter | Contact
Ann Jones (Labour, North Wales) Twitter | Contact
Jeff Cuthbert (Labour, South Wales East) Twitter | Contact
David Rees (Labour, South Wales West) Twitter | Contact
Jenny Rathbone (Labour, Cardiff Central) Twitter | Contact
Against the ban
William Graham (Conservatives, South Wales East)
Russell George (Conservatives, Montgomeryshire)
Elin Jones (Plaid Cymu, Ceredigion) ***
Janet Finch Saunders (Conservatives, North Wales)
Rhun ap Iorwerth (Plaid Cymru, North Wales)
Suzy Davies (Conservatives, South Wales West)
Mark Isherwood (Conservatives, North Wales)
Janet Haworth (Conservatives, North Wales)
Andrew Davies (Conservatives, South Wales Central)
Darren Millar (Conservatives, Clwyd West) ***
Kirsty Williams (Lib Dems, Brecon and Radnorshire) ***
Mohammad Asghar, (Lib Dems, South Wales East)
Peter Black, (Lib Dems, South Wales West) ***
Simon Thomas (Plaid Cymru, Mid and West Wales)
Bethan Jenkins (Plaid Cymru, South West Wales)
Lindsay Whittle (Plaid Cymru, South Wales East)
William Graham (Conservatives, South Wales East)
Eluned Parrott (Lib Dems, South Wales Central)
*** Has been outspoken in defence of ecigs.
Contacting Your AM
You may think that it’s pointless to contact politicians. But I’ve spoken to several politicians who have been deeply concerned about e-cig regulations after reading letters from vapers.
Some of those politicians have gone on to speak out against negative e-cig regulations.
The very effort that goes into a letter means it carries more weight than a petition signature. It takes seconds to sign a petition, but if you write a letter the extra effort shows you really care about the issue.
What’s more, an approaching election and growing dissatisfaction with the Welsh Labour government should help concentrate minds!
Wondering What to Write?
The most important thing is to write from the heart and share your own experiences of how vaping has helped them – and how a ban would affect you and other vapers like you.
However, a guide can be useful. The following has been suggested by ECITA.
Dear [enter your AMs name]
[Use this section to talk about who you are, and why you vape – it’s important to make them recognise the impact of this policy on real people. If you support the party of the AM, it’s probably worth mentioning that too. However, if you don’t, it’s probably better to not mention it!]
[Use this section to set out why you think the ban on vaping in public spaces is a bad idea – are you worried about second hand smoke, or that you might relapse to smoking, or that it will make it harder to switch from real cigarettes? Add anything else you think might be relevant]
[Thank them for reading your letter, and invite them to contact you if they want more information]
Vaping advocate Rhydian Mann has also put a great guide to writing to AMs.
This is not instruction on how to write a letter but has tips and topics that you should include.
Part 1 – YOUR STORY!
* Your journey from smoking to vaping.
* Include any health benefits that you may have felt after switching
Part 2 – HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT THE PROPOSALS
* Honest feelings even if you are angry and frustrated, but word it nicely.
* Do you think Mark Drakeford and the Welsh Labour Government are right?
* What impact will the proposed ban have on you?
Part 3 – WHAT DO YOU WANT YOUR AM/MP TO DO FOR YOU?
* Vote NO when the Public Health Bill comes before the AMs next year. The PH Bill is full of common sense regulation but banning vaping indoors is not justified.
* Place pressure on Mark Drakeford to produce the evidence which supports his point of view. The WHO does not overrule those charities and organisation best placed at the local level.
* Ask you AM to read any evidence that you will accompany with your letter to support the position that vaping isn’t harmful enough to be banned indoors.
* Ask your AM/MP to meet you in person.
Part 4 – WHY SHOULD YOUR AM/MP LISTEN TO YOU?
* For AMs, the Welsh Assembly Elections are happening in May 2016. You might not choose to vote Labour based on this single issue which has benefited your health so much.
* Politicians are voted in by you, therefore they must listen.
* Mark Drakeford is not listening to those who replied to the PH Consultation. 79% said NO to an indoor vaping ban but he still decided to go ahead.
* Mark Drakeford is making the Welsh Labour Party and the Labour Party as a whole look bad. Party reputation can be damaged by Mark Drakeford on his own.
Comments from AMs
For a Ban
@inijames I'm currently pretty supportive but scrutiny process will help me decide whether better regulation would suffice.
— Llyr Gruffydd AS/MS (@LlyrGruffydd) June 12, 2015
Source: South Wales Argus
“I am far more worried that the e-cigarette movement is re-normalising smoking, that it’s re-glamorising smoking. It contains nicotine and nicotine is highly addictive. And what we don’t want are e-cigarettes to become a gateway to real cigarettes.”
“It puts e-cigarettes on the same footing as ordinary tobacco products. I don’t see it’s that much of a problem for users of e-cigarettes. They can use them, for example, without using them in public.”
Against a Ban
“Banning the smoking of e-cigarettes in public places would send the wrong message out to people who are trying to quit smoking.
“For many habitual smokers, e-cigarettes are the first step towards a smoke-free lifestyle and some healthcare professionals recommend their use as a tool to support the quitting process.
“Forcing people out into the smoking shelter with ordinary smokers is clearly an awful idea. Why stigmatise something which encourages people to quit smoking tobacco products?
Use of e-cigs can be used as a tool to quit smoking. Banning them in public buildings would only hinder that. No sense in banning them ?
— Russell George AM (@russ_george) April 2, 2014
The evidence for this decision is wafer thin. Banning things just for the sake of it isn’t a position any Government should take.
There is very little evidence to date that e-cigs emit anything more harmful than water vapour. Therefore any ban on e-cigs is completely unjustifiable.
Source: Wales Online
My position and that of the party is that it is not appropriate to legislate to change people’s behaviour. The smoking ban came about because of significant evidence of the damaging effect on other people’s health from second hand smoke.
There is no evidence of a similar impact from e-cigarettes and unless such evidence emerges the Welsh Liberal Democrats AMs will be voting against this ban.
The Welsh Government is consulting on a ban on e-cigarettes in public places. I supported the original ban on smoking due to the harm of second-hand smoke and the secondary issue of inconvenience to non-smokers. You are right to say that this consideration does not arise with e-cigarettes.
The Welsh Government must therefore bring forward compelling evidence of any dangers of e-cigarettes that such a ban would address. My party, Plaid Cymru, has made it clear we have not seen such evidence to date. We remain unconvinced of the public health needs of such a ban.
I do feel that there may be some aspects of e-cigarette marketing, eg advertising and flavoured e-cigarettes, that could be seen as encouraging people to use nicotine who would otherwise not and which may be considered as part of this consultation. On today’s evidence therefore, I would not support a ban on electronic cigarettes in public places, though of course individual institutions and businesses are entitled to do so.
The minister needs to present evidence to us of why banning e-cigs in public will enhance public health. Whilst we do not want to see smoking ‘normalised’ through widespread use of e-cigarettes, we feel at this stage, that a ban would do more harm than good because it would remove a product that many people are using to give up smoking. We would prefer to see the government ban smoking (actual cigarettes) in cars with children and focus resources on tackling smoking in deprived areas.
I am a non smoker and do feel that e-cigarettes help those who do smoke give up.
Banning vaping is not evidence based. It is useful when quitting smoking tobacco and when banned in Spain, smoking increased. Sadly the bill, which contains good parts, may be lost.
Source: South Wales Argus