For those unaware, there’s been a lot of debate in Wales lately over the use of e cigarettes. In June 2015 a new Public Health Bill was proposed that would put restrictions on vaping in Wales. Parts of the bill included:
- Restricting the use of tobacco and nicotine inhaling devices (such as e-cigarettes) in enclosed public places.
- Creating a national register of retailers of tobacco and nicotine products.
- Prohibiting the handing over of tobacco and nicotine products to under 18s.
The biggest impact for vapers of course would be the restriction of e cigarettes in enclosed public spaces. At the moment it’s not against the law to vape in schools, hospitals, public transport etc, and the debate is still raging as to whether or not it should be. Welsh MPs obviously think it should be, and decided to add a public ban into their proposed health bill. And it would have gotten through if it hadn’t been for some crazy last minute high jinx.
The two leading political parties in Wales are Labour and Plaid Cymru, and both need to be able to agree to get a bill like this approved. Both parties often come to a deal when it comes to important matters such as public health, but unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it), Labour’s Public Services Minister Leighton Andrews said a previous deal with Plaid Cymru was comparable to a "cheap date". This no doubt raised some laughs in the assembly, but the guys over at Plaid Cymru didn’t see the funny side. In fact, they were so incensed by being compared to a cheap date, they voted against the Public Health Bill as a protest.
Health Minister Mark Drakeford said he was "deeply disappointed" the bill would not become law, but Plaid AM Simon Thomas said that Labour needed a "lesson".
For outsiders looking in this whole mess seems ridiculous and proves a lot of our theories about parliament being an oversized school playground correct. It also goes to show that not all laws are passed on rational reasoning with the benefit of the nation at heart. A lot depends on how MPs are feeling on the day, and whether they want to take a swipe at the opposition.
On a serious note it’s rather frightening to think that these men and women have technically got our lives in their hands.
For now though it’s good news as the Public Health Bill was thrown out and for the time being at least vaping publicly in Wales is still technically legal.
Public places that would have been affected by the bill included:
- Schools and education establishments.
- Places where food is served.
- Premises with childcare.
- Public transport.
- Transport hubs (train/bus stations).
So if you happen to find yourself in a bus, somewhere in Wales you can fire up your e cig and chase some clouds safe in the knowledge that thanks to a joke about a cheap date, the law can’t stop you.
That’s what I find funny and some would say that’s the real joke.