When electronic cigarettes first came out in the UK it was exactly what smokers needed because we could suddenly vape in places where traditional cigarettes were banned. The smoking ban in 2007 hit smokers hard and some would argue helped in the decline of pubs across Britain. In 2010 I flew for 10 hours to Los Angeles and was happily vaping my e cig without a care in the world. Far from telling me to stop the flight attendants actually encouraged me and said they’d soon be selling them on-board. On hearing this my friends started switching to e cigs and suddenly quitting the costly habit of smoking tobacco seemed the smart thing to do. We could vape in pubs and out in public, and it was better for your health. Win, win we said.
But gradually the media got a handle on e cigs and the lobbyists from Big Tobacco could sense their profits about to fall. So before we knew it e cigs were being classed the same as tobacco and banned on planes, across airports, in pubs, cinemas and most places where smoking was banned. So suddenly a huge incentive to switch from tobacco to e cigs was snatched away from us.
Now, as we go into 2016 the pendulum might be swinging back in favour of e cigarettes. The NHS have decided to offer e cigarettes as a viable alternative to smoking. Health Minister Mark Drakeford was recently forced to change his plans for an outright ban on e cigarettes in public places. The Welsh Governments report for a ban on e cigs was ripped to pieces and the opposition are using the same report as an argument for relaxing bans.
Key points include:
- No evidence so far that e-cigarettes are acting as a route into smoking for children or non-smokers
- E-cigarettes could potentially mean 76,000 fewer deaths every year in England - down from 80,000 deaths a year.
- E-cigarettes could be contributing to the decline in smoking amongst adults and youths
The opposition leader stated:
"It provides yet more evidence that Labour Ministers are very wrong in their efforts to try and ban the use of e-cigarettes in public places. I remain unconvinced by the Welsh Government's arguments for a public ban and I fear this would be a huge step backwards for those who are using e-cigarettes to quit smoking or cut down the number of traditional cigarettes they are smoking each day"
– DARREN MILLAR AM, SHADOW HEALTH MINISTER
It’s a fact that the smoking ban has done very little, if nothing to discourage smokers. All the government efforts to discourage smoking including advertising bans, inflated tax, gruesome images on packets etc., have failed to deter people from smoking. E cigarettes are proven to be safer than tobacco. 95% safer according to the NHS, so why the demonization? A non-bias party would surely look at the facts and conclude that we should encourage e cigarettes. E cigarettes might just be the thing to eradicate tobacco completely, and if we believe what we’re told by our governments this is what they’ve been trying to do for years.
Conspiracy theories aside my guess is the people in power who want to banish e cigarettes have never been smokers themselves. People that have never smoked think it’s a disgusting, unnecessary habit, which it is. But they fail to understand it’s an addiction. It’s an addiction that’s been handed down to us through generations, so they can’t blame us. They can’t blame our parents, or our grandparents. Smoking tobacco has been endemic in the UK since the money men started pushing tobacco on us, and making it look cool by subliminal advertising in movies and the media. Now they want to brush it under the carpet and pretend it doesn’t exist by banning it in public places. But the smoking ban has proved this hasn’t stopped people from smoking. So banning e cigarettes in public is just as short sighted and likely to encourage people to continue smoking tobacco.
It’s an argument that no doubt will continue throughout 2016, and it’s clear opinions are still divided, but at least now common sense seems to be prevailing in many parts of the country. Scotland are even allowing vaping in hospitals. The fact that the NHS have put their weight behind e cigarettes is a huge boost and will make it hard for lobbyists to state a plausible argument against e cigarettes.
I have a feeling that we might just see a few breakthroughs in 2016. One of the main arguments against e cigarettes is that we don’t know the dangers for 100%. But many scientists have agreed that e cigarettes are safer than tobacco, and clearly the NHS feel the same way.
A relaxation on vaping in public can only encourage more smokers to make the switch. This is what the government has wanted for years and this is what they’ll get if they lose the short-sighted visions of a few people in power who don’t understand what it’s like to be a smoker.
Until then we’ll just keep on vaping in vape shops and hope that for 2016 we’ll see a return to common sense that makes Britain a country to be proud of.