Yesterday I followed a link from Twitter to a consultation on a ban on smoking outdoor places.
The consultation asks whether smoking should be banned in places like beaches (presumably because of the passive smoking danger to cockles) and parks.
The questionnaire even asks you if smoking outside pubs should be prohibited, which sounds like the final nail in coffin for Swansea’s suffering pubs! (UK pubs are currently closing at the rate of 29 a week.)
Some of the questions are quite difficult to answer, and I nearly quit on one page.
Take this for example:
Now I don’t know about you, but I feel smoking around food and smoking around drink are completely different things.
To me, smoking when you have good food seems sacrilegious.
I still remember, as a pot washer in Gower hotel and restaurant Fairyhill, getting shouted at after walking through the kitchen with a cigarette in hand.
More recently, I remember Greek e-cig retailer Dimitris vaping at a back street restaurant in Paris we were visiting during the Paris Vape Expo. He’d already got permission to vape in the restaurant, but when the owner put his food down and he carried on vaping, she told him to stop.
“I vape instead of eating, this is how I lose weight,” said Dimitris.
“You smoke, no problem. But I put food in front of you, you eat, not smoke.”
Smoking and eating may not go so well together, but drinking and smoking go together like, well, the Welsh government and knee-jerk paranoid reactions.
Sneaking E-Cigs Into The Public Ban
But I digress.
Because hidden in the survey I found a question on banning e-cigs:
I’m not sure what they mean by a voluntary ban on e-cigs, and it’s not clarified in the questionnaire. Is it banned unless you feel like not obeying the ban, and then it’s okay?
Could this seemingly innocuous question later be used as ‘evidence’ to ban e-cigs in public places?
Of course, this is just a consultation. But I’m suspicious about consultations.
For example, Wales consulted about a ban on e-cigs in public places.
A majority of respondents AND 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 told them it was a bad idea.
Attacking the Swansea E-Cig Industry
The ironic thing is, there’s a huge e-cig industry in Swansea. My company alone employs around 23 people in the Swansea area (all paid more than the Living Wage, and most of them in a rural area where there are bugger all other jobs other than farming and complaining). There’s also Decadent Vapours, whose factory is based in Swansea, and the Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association, as well as many others.
It’s an export and manufacturing industry as well as a retail industry, and we export as far away as Australia.
But aside from undermining local businesses, there’s simply no reason to ban e-cigs outside. It sends the wrong message (that e-cigs are bad for you and other people, when Public Health England says there are 95% better than smoking) and removes another motivation for switching away from tobacco cigarettes.
So if you have a few minutes, do take the time to fill in Swansea’s consultation form.