Open letter to Pembrokeshire County Council
You recently imposed a “voluntary ban” on smoking and vaping at Little Haven Beach. In your statement¹ Councillor George says: “It is vital to de-normalise smoking to reduce the rates of young people taking it up and also to reduce their exposure to smoke and e cigarette vapour in areas where they gather.” Your statement later quotes Dr Ruth Hussey too, the Chief Medical Officer for Wales: “The measures on tobacco and e-cigarettes in the Public Health (Wales) Bill look to prevent renormalisation of smoking behaviours.”
Are you aware that there is no evidence that e-cigarette vapour has any harmful effect on bystanders, whether inside or out? Also that there is no credible evidence that vaping normalises smoking: in fact the evidence points in the opposite direction. You may have seen the Public Health England expert independent review² which estimates vaping to be at least 95% safer than smoking and says ecigs have potential to help people to stop smoking. The authors regret that nearly half of the adult population don’t realise that ecigs are safer than tobacco cigarettes, a misconception which the Little Haven beach ban does nothing to dispel.
Your ban will not only stop people from vaping at the beach it will also deter them from taking up this life saving alternative.
The Public Health Bill which Dr Hussey refers to has been extremely controversial, because of the provisions which ban vaping in public places. Many experts believe that the Bill will be detrimental to public health. This BBC infographic³ depicts the controversy about the measures. The ban on vaping at Little Haven beach goes far beyond anything in the Bill.
We hope you’ve seen this tweet from ASH Wales Cymru – they do not support your ban:
There is no scientific justification for this and it will harm public health.
Our Welsh members have expressed concern that this will harm much needed tourism in the area. Many of our members also feel it’s disgraceful for smoking to be banned on a beach or open space; this measure is similarly without scientific backing.
This is taking the powers of the state (local government) too far.
We urge you to reconsider this ban.