Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Two steps back, one step forward

Last year, the Labour-run Welsh Government put forward plans to ban vaping in all indoor public places in the same way as smoking has been banned. This was widely criticised as being draconian and indeed possibly counter-productive, as many people switch to vaping as a means of stopping smoking. Perhaps surprisingly, the most vocal opponents have been the Welsh Liberal Democrats under Kirsty Williams. It makes a refreshing change to see the LibDems actually standing up for something liberal.

After due consideration, health minister Mark Drakeford has come up with slightly watered-down proposals which would allow vaping in some enclosed places, including pubs that did not either serve food or allow children. That sounds suspiciously like the proposals relating to smoking in the 2005 Labour manifesto, which of course they later “welshed” on.

These would have led to a two-tier pub trade, divided between down-to-earth, working-class boozers with no kids or food, and sanitised midde-class dining outlets filled with the smell of cooking and the tinkle of children’s happy laughter. No prizes for guessing which I would have preferred! Obviously this would have been preferable to the current situation, but it still would have been far from ideal. Many pubs where food was only a sideline would have ended up dropping it to keep their drinking customers.

I’m not sure whether vapers have yet reached the critical mass where pubs would think it worthwhile to abandon food to retain their business, but it’s certainly the case that where the vaper goes, his or her friends will follow. And Wales, perhaps more than any other part of the UK, certainly still has plenty of basic, wet-led, adults-only boozers.

Surely the best solution would to allow pubs and other businesses to choose whether to allow vaping or not, and let the market decide. Just as it should have been with smoking. Let’s hope the Welsh Government eventually see sense.

8 comments:

  1. As using e-cigarettes doesn't affect other people, I agree that pubs should be allowed to choose; my own local allows it, and I'm not aware of any public demand for such a ban. Cancer Research UK is opposed to such a ban on the grounds that it lessens the incentive for people to switch to e-cigarettes. The problem with the food proviso is whether snacks such as crisps, pickled eggs and rolls would require a pub to ban e-cigarettes.

    Where you and I differ is the suggestion that such an approach should have been applied to smoking, which does quite seriously affect other people.

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  2. @Nev - but surely allowing smoking rooms separate from the bar would have been a better solution than a blanket ban?

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  3. That was an option that perhaps deserved more consideration at the time, but it's not the same as allowing pubs to choose whether to allow smoking or not, letting the market decide. It wasn't, and still isn't, an issue that the market can determine.

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  4. They wanna ban alcohol until after 8pm. Before 8pm, kids might be exposed to seeing drinking as normal and acceptable.

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  5. Since Fullers & Spoons banned vaping I have not set foot in either of them. My better half and my mates are happy to go along with that, there are plenty of other places to get beer and food.

    The biggest single transaction was a meal for twenty people (leaving do) in St Albans that ended up being moved away from the Fullers pub to the free house down the road. We had 5 people who are using ecigs to give up smoking in that party. That's a sum in he high 3 figures lost.

    There are north of 2 million people using ecigs in the UK, If Fullers, Wetherspoons and other chains don't want their money (or their freinds/relatives money) then there are plenty who do.

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  6. RedNev,
    Smoking would only affect you if you happen to walk in to a pub that permitted smoking. You know the same way that drinking only affects you in a place that drinkers go to - like a pub for example. It really is much better for everyone if anti-smokers would fuck off and go to their own pubs. Problem is, anti-smokers know their pubs were dull as ditch water due to the fact that hardly anyone went to them before the smoking ban - most people preferring the more inclusive type of pub. But instead we have lost 10,000+ pubs just because anti-smokers were too stupid to find or not willing to go to the sort of pub they claim they like - non-smoking ones.

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  7. The Blocked Dwarf3 February 2016 at 13:27

    anti-smokers were too stupid to find or not willing to go to the sort of pub they claim they like - non-smoking ones.

    There is some truth in that but the real traitors are those smokers who still go to Pubs. If every single pub going smoker had said , back in 2007, 'i won't go where i am not wanted' . I did and so have others. Those Quislings who stand outside the pub smoking are only bolstering the Verbot.

    Personally my cold grey stoney heart beats a little faster with celebratory joy every time I see a new Tesco Express. Pub closure by pub closure, boarded up cafe by boarded up cafe. Personally i try and buy a few packs of smokes here in the yUK as I can, as few "UK DUTY PAID" as possible. I'd rather risk smoking 'low quality, terrorist funding' (to quote HMRC) tobacco than pay for my own persecution.

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  8. I was one of those smokers who decided to stop patronising the newly inaptly-named hospitality industry when the smoking ban came in. Haven't been in a restaurant for eight and a half years and reluctantly in one pub once a year when I leave as soon as I decently can and without spending any money.

    Not sure who I'm angriest with: parliament, the pubs that squealed about 'level playing fields' or smug non-smokers who continue to ignorantly and snootily point out the 'dangers' of ETS when it's long been known that the 'dangers' were trumped-up hokum.

    Jay

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