The Health and Social Care Committee has today published its report into the general principles of the Public Health (Wales) Bill. Assembly members have been considering the Welsh Government’s controversial proposals to restrict the use of e-cigarettes in Wales.
The report highlights the strong objections of many AMs to the proposals, and finds the committee split on many aspects related to e-cigarettes.
AMs were unable to reach a consensus view on whether to support the provisions to restrict the use of e-cigarettes in enclosed and substantially enclosed workplaces and public places; with many committee members holding that the restrictions would be contrary to the aim of the bill to improve public health.
There were also differences of opinion on suggestions that e-cigarettes could lead to the re-normalisation of smoking, with the evidence base described as “limited”.
The committee report welcomed the contribution made by e-cigarettes as an aid to smoking cessation, noting the role they are already playing in reducing the harm from tobacco smoking. There was “limited evidence” to suggest that they could act as a gateway to traditional tobacco products.
Commenting on the report, Shadow Health Minister – Darren Millar – said:
“This report highlights the lack of consensus among AMs on an e-cigarette ban, as well as the lack of evidence for the claims on which the proposals are based.
“We remain steadfastly opposed to Welsh Labour’s wrong-headed insistence on restricting the use of e-cigarettes.
“Not only is it clear that they have a significant role to play in supporting helping people quit smoking, but this report highlights the lack of evidence out there to support suggestions that vaping could re-normalise smoking.”
Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies, added:
“Labour’s war on e-cigarettes is likely to undermine the efforts of tens of thousands of smokers seeking help to quit tobacco products.
“Mark Drakeford’s legislation isn’t based on science – it’s Labour nannying at its worst - it’s akin to banning sweeteners because they could be a gateway to the refined stuff.”