First Minister Mark Drakeford says failing to push through vaping bill is one of his biggest regrets

  • Mark Drakeford discusses vaping culture in Wales.

The First Minister has said one of his biggest regrets is failing to push a vaping bill through the Senedd.

Reflecting on his time as Wales' Health Minister between 2013 and 2016, Mark Drakeford explained how the bill would have put "significant more control over the use of e-cigarettes" compared to today.

The bill missed out on becoming law by just one vote on the last day of the Senedd term.

It was proposed that the use of e-cigarettes would have been banned in public places the same way tobacco cigarettes are.

He added: "It would have put significantly tougher controls over their ability for children and young people. Sometimes that's what I regret the most whilst I've been working in the Senedd - there are a number of things I regret - but that would be right at the top on a very short list.

"Because we had the chance in Wales to do something different that would have protected young people from the risks that vaping and e-cigarette use brings."

Credit: PA Images

It comes as recent figures show 4.3 million people in the UK now vape.

Despite e-cigarettes meant to help people move away from tobacco, the First Minister believes they in fact act as a "gateway" and "trap" young people into nicotine addiction.

He explained: "We are going to go back to see whether there is anything we can rescue from what we lost, because the evidence of young people being drawn into nicotine addiction by e-cigarettes is really frightening. And it's even more frightening in other parts of the world.

"I'll give you my view that this is no accident. The companies that promote e-cigarettes are the companies that promoted tobacco in the first place. And e-cigarettes are what they call a 'gateway' - they trap young people into nicotine addiction and they make it more likely that they will smoke in the future and that is a disastrous outcome."

Around 4.3 million people in the UK vape. Credit: PA

The First Minister concluded his answer by warning if action isn't taken soon, then the progress seen with tobacco smoking bans could be reversed.

"It's about trying to use the law to control availability, to make sure that there are genuine penalties for people that try to exploit young people in that way, to prevent advertising of these products to young people in a way that tempts them.

"Otherwise we are in real danger of having worked so hard to drive down the prevalence of tobacco smoking, which is one of the great changes of my lifetime.

"We've really made a huge difference in reducing the surge of tobacco, but the risk is that if we don't deal with vaping in the serious way we need to, we will reopen the door to all of that and our young people will be the ones who will have suffered the most", the First Minister said.