Wales This Week: Smoke Without Fire

E-cigarettes: a miracle for people wanting to give up tobacco or a menace for the nation’s non-smokers? As the Welsh Government looks to ban them from public places, Wales This Week finds out more about the booming business of E-cigarettes.

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E-cigarettes: A menace or a miracle?

Credit: Tim Ireland / Press Association

Plans to ban the use of e-cigarettes in enclosed public places would be broadly welcomed by a majority of Welsh people.

That's the conclusion of an exclusive ITV Wales poll, which found that 52% of respondents backed the proposal by Health Minister Mark Drakeford. The Welsh Government will decide whether to go ahead with the plan later this year. But, for many people, e-cigarettes seem to be a life saver. Rob Heyes from Cardigan has suffered serious health problems as a result of smoking tobacco for 33 years. He’s now given up with the help of e-cigarettes.

“I’m furious about it to be honest, that’s one of the reasons people start using these because they can use them indoors, once they've started then they can move onto eventually switching completely.”

– Rob Heyes, Cardigan

Dr Ruth Stone from Llandaff Surgery thinks e-cigarettes are a huge public health success:

“I think they are a very good substitute for ordinary cigarettes, they do provide nicotine which is often needed when one is giving up cigarettes. They don’t supply the tar and the smoke and the tobacco that are harmful to people. So they’re very useful as an adjunct treatment.”

– Dr Ruth Stone, Llandaff Surgery

Almost half of those who answered our opinion poll seem to agree with the doctor. 42% said they think e-cigarettes help reduce smoking and only 15% think they encourage people to take up the habit.

But despite the research suggesting e-cigarettes do help people quit cigarettes, the Health Minister is convinced they normalise the act of smoking. He also claims there is not enough evidence to assume they're completely safe.

“What we have to do is consider the emerging evidence in this field and I have to proceed on the precautionary principle, if there is evidence that e-cigarettes do no harm, but a pile of evidence that suggests that they may be harmful to people's health in the future. Then I cannot afford to take the risk with the Welsh population’s health.”

– Mark Drakeford AM, Minister for Health

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