Monday, 20 January 2014

Public authorities in Scotland ban e-cigarettes in public buildings

This escalation of banning e-cigarettes does look odd, doesn't it? They are even banned in some outdoor areas around public buildings.

The fear seems to be as expressed by a Glasgow health board spokesperson: 
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: “The use of e-cigarettes in NHS grounds perpetuates the idea smoking is acceptable in public areas.”
But this approach seems very unscientific. E-cigarette use is not smoking. People are using e-cigarettes instead of smoking, either on a selective basis or completely. After being told more times than most of us have had hot dinners that there is nothing better for your health than stopping smoking, the device people are turning to in their thousands is now facing significant restrictions, and EU legislation still hovers over them.

The only thing that needs to be done is regulation. Tobacco is regulated, and all consumer products require some regulatory oversight to protect consumers. There is no call whatever for a ban.

Health authorities who ban e-cigarettes because they make users look like smokers should take a good hard look at themselves. Having derided tobacco companies for the alleged health records of smoking for over 30 years, it seems perverse to ban the use of a product that can eliminate the most hazardous elements of smoking, namely the absorption of tar and smoke. If smokers can use this product at less than the cost of smoking, they may not return to smoking.

Anti-smokers have little to be complacent about. Illicit tobacco is becoming more plentiful on our streets, and can remove any price advantage that the less harmful product has.

Scottish public authorities need to get a grip on themselves. They provide a valuable service but they are not (or should not be) empowered to pronounce what recreational products the public should find 'acceptable'; or to assert ownership of 'public areas'.


Anonymous said...

The recent NICE guideline on smoking in hospitals etc said this"3.30 The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has
decided that all nicotine-containing products should be regulated (for further details, see the MHRA website). This means that there may be a period when both licensed and unlicensed products (such as electronic cigarettes) are being used by the public as a means to abstain from smoking. In this situation, the PDG recognised that it would be very difficult and possibly
counterproductive to disallow the use of unlicensed products in all secondary care settings. NHS Trusts would need to formulate their own local policies on the use of such products, depending on local circumstances and judgement."

The first ecig should receive its licence before Easter so may cause some handwringing

Junican said...

The MHRA is bluffing. It does not have the authority to declare anything it pleases to be a medicine.
Will they issue a press release saying they they have changed their minds? Of course not! They will say nothing and just let the idea go away. If taxed about the matter, they will simply say that "the matter is still under consideration".