E-cigarettes: Should they be included in the smoking ban?

Wales could be the first part of the UK to ban the use of electronic cigarettes in public places, making e-cigarettes part of the smoking ban. With the recent debates over whether it’s right or not, we gathered the opinion of our panel of UK consumers to see if they agreed or disagreed with the ban on e-cigarettes.

It’s fair to say our panel were relatively split when it came to the banning of e-cigarettes in public places – surprisingly this wasn’t just smoker’s vs non-smokers. 58% of the panel wanted to see a ban of electronic cigarettes in all public areas, as many perceived the e-cigarettes to have similar, less serve but similar, health implications on the user of the e-cigarette. They felt that by allowing these types of e-cigarettes in public places, it was still glorifying cigarettes in the eyes of children

Others felt that there was not enough research behind the side effects of the new e-cigarettes, similar to when cigarettes first became popular. That it was easier to ban something like e-cigarettes now so that in 20 years we won’t have the same huge problem to shift to a ban, like when the smoking ban was first put in place.

Some of the panel felt that a large amount of the non-smoking population had now gotten used to a smoke free environment, and did not want to adjust back. A small proportion of the panel commented on confusion or disputes they had seen around the use of e-cigarettes indoors, that there is a bit of a taboo around where they are acceptable to use and where they’re not. This proportion of the panel found themselves feeling uncomfortable when they had been subjected to sitting next to someone using an e-cigarette.

Many of the panel that wanted to see a ban on e-cigarettes felt that the use of e-cigarettes was becoming increasingly popular and just creating future health risks, as a number of ex-smokers were relying solely on the e-cigarettes now instead; others commented that they had noticed people who did not previously smoke had now taken up smoking e-cigarettes. This proportion of the panel questioned why someone would give up smoking one thing just to start smoking another. Although almost all of the panel were not sure on the health implications of e-cigarettes, whether it was still passive smoking when someone is smoking near them, or what really goes into the cigarettes.

On the other side of the argument were a number of people that felt it was wrong to condone the use of e-cigarettes – as users of electronic cigarettes are people who are trying to give up smoking and have a healthier lifestyle, they should not be penalised because some people feel uncomfortable around them.

Some of this proportion of the panel felt that local places, like pubs or venues might suffer if they were to ban the electronic cigarettes – just like the smoking ban – as people will opt to stay at home where they can smoke their cigarettes or e-cigarettes freely. Many felt that this was over regulation of something that is not harmful to others, as the majority of this proportion of the panel did not see passive health implications. A few of the panel members felt that if e-cigarettes were also to be banned in public then they may as well go back to smoking.

The general consensus of this segment of the panel was that smoking an electronic cigarette must be better than smoking a real cigarette health-wise, for themselves and others and therefore more sociable. Although some did appreciate that potentially the electronic cigarettes that look like a real cigarette should be banned as they can see how someone would become confused between the two.