E-cigarettes could face ban in public places where children are present in Welsh Assembly vote today

Francesca Washtell
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World Health Organisation Calls For Regulation Of Ecigarettes
If the Public Health (Wales) Bill is passed today smoking e-cigarettes will be restricted in public and work areas where children are likely to be present (Source: Getty)

A landmark vote in Wales today could lead to e-cigarettes being banned in public places where children and young people are present by early 2017.

The Public Health (Wales) Bill will restrict all nicotine-inhaling devices being used in areas such as schools, places where food is served, all shops except specialist tobacconists, hospital, libraries zoos and cinemas, among others.

The bill originally proposed banning e-cigarettes from all enclosed public and work places, but this was amended after a committee report challenged the blanket ban.

Other proposals include creating a national register of retailers of tobacco and nicotine products, adding to the offences which contribute to a Restricted Premises Order (which prohibits the sale of tobacco products from a particular site) and prohibiting the handing over of tobacco or nicotine products to people under the age of 18.

Health minister Mark Drakeford has strongly supported the ban, saying he fears e-cigarettes "re-normalise" and "re-glamorise" smoking.

This is despite recent research which found e-cigarettes have now become the number one product now used by tobacco users to quit smoking, overtaking nicotine gum and other nicotine-replacement methods.

Public Health England (PHE) released a review in 2015 that estimated using e-cigarettes is 95 per cent less harmful than smoking tobacco and also, crucially, did not establish a link between e-cigarette use becoming a "gateway" to using traditional cigarettes.

"Restricting the use of e-cigarettes in this way is absurd. These products are a gateway away from smoking and have the potential to save hundreds of thousands of lives," Mark Littlewood, director general at the Institute for Economic Affairs, said.

"Banning their use in certain public places might have the perverse effect of pushing former smokers back to tobacco, risking lives in the process."

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