Parties, campaigners and traders react to failed e-cig ban

The Public Health Bill, which included proposals to ban the use of e-cigarettes in some public places, has failed. It comes after Plaid Cymru said it was withdrawing its support of the bill.

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Campaigners & health chiefs hit out at 'cheap date' spat

It was the last day of the Assembly's term and they seemed to save the best drama till the end. A major row has broken out after a Labour Minister called winning support from Plaid Cymru a 'cheap date'. Plaid Cymru responded by withdrawing their backing for a major public health bill that had been due to pass.

Today, health chiefs hit out saying politicians shouldn't 'play games with the nation's health.'


ASH disappointed by failure of Public Health Bill

Anti-smoking campaigners ASH Wales Cymru have expressed their disappointment at the failure of the Public Health Bill.

Credit: PA

They have expressed their concern that the tobacco control measures contained in the proposed legislation might be lost.

The Bill would have led to the creation of a national register of retailers of tobacco products and it would have restricted smoking in public playgrounds, school grounds and hospital grounds.

We know that smoking is an addiction of childhood, a classroom full of children take up smoking every day in Wales. It is essential that any tobacco control measures tackle the issue of young people taking up smoking. The retail register would have been a fantastic opportunity to give enforcement agencies a clear idea of where tobacco is being sold legally and illegally. As we know illegal tobacco is a huge problem across Wales, especially as it makes tobacco more accessible to young people with its cheap prices and lack of age restrictions.

– Suzanne Cass, Chief Executive of ASH Wales Cymru

'Iliberal Labour wrong to try and ban e-cigs’

The leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, Kirsty Williams, has criticised the Labour government for trying to ban the use of e-cigarettes despite, she says, evidence saying this could harm public health.

Credit: PA

We have given Labour a bloody nose, however the battle is not over yet. For starters, Plaid now need to pledge they won’t vote for this illiberal piece of legislation if it were ever to appear in the Assembly again.“Labour’s illiberal plan flies in the face of medical evidence.

E-cigarettes are a useful way for smokers to give up on tobacco and there is no doubt they have saved lives. It’s disgraceful that Labour and Plaid have ganged up to ban the use of them.

This law would have sent the wrong signal that e-cigarettes are as bad for your health as normal cigarettes. That simply isn’t the case.

– Kirsty Williams AM, Leader Welsh Libveral Democrats

Campaigners and traders 'delight' at Public Health Bill defeat

Campaigners and traders have reacted to the failed Public Health Bill, which included proposals to ban the use of e-cigarettes in some public places.

Credit: PA

The British Vape Trade Association -which is made up of importers, distributors and vendors within vaping- has expressed their 'delight' at the u-turn.

We are delighted that a majority of Welsh Assembly members have chosen to vote against the Welsh Government’s public vaping ban.

This ban was not based on any credible evidence, and it was clear by the wide coalition of organisations opposing this ban, that it lacked any significant support within the public health community or the wider Welsh population.

– Richard Hyslop, Chief Executive of the Independent British Vape Trade Association

Campaigners within the group 'Forest' which advised against plans to ban the use of e-cigarettes have also welcomed the news.

The proposals to severely restrict the use of e-cigarettes in public places were hopelessly misguided and irrational.

The proposed measures were based not on evidence of harm but on an irrational fear of nicotine.

– Simon Clark, Director of smokers' group Forest

Welsh Conservatives welcome Bill's defeat

The Welsh Conservatives have welcomed the defeat of the Public Health Bill.

Credit: PA

I have long argued that introducing this ban would be a huge step backwards for smoking cessation and efforts to improve public health, and I’m delighted that pressure from the Welsh Conservatives and other opposition parties yielded results in the end.

Labour ministers are totally misguided in their war on e-cigarettes and in the end their arrogant attempt to force a ban through were thwarted.

There is no evidence supporting their plans and they should have been ditched months ago. Ultimately, we should be giving people a helping hand to quit smoking – not placing obstacles in their way

– Darren Millar AM, Shadow Health Minister


Health Minister 'deeply disappointed' after bill defeat

The Public Health Bill has been defeated in the Senedd tonight, after Plaid Cymru withdrew its support at the last minute.

Their decision came after Public Services Minister Leighton Andrews described a previous deal with the party as like a "cheap date".

Health Minister Mark Drakeford said he was "deeply disappointed".

  1. Nick Powell

Plaid "unfit for government" say Labour

Labour have accused Plaid Cymru of bringing the Assembly into disrepute, following the defeat of the Public Health Bill.

The decision from Plaid today smacks of a party unfit for Government. The only thing that has changed since last week's Stage 3 vote on the Public Health Bill is a single off-the-cuff remark in a jokey final plenary session. To vote down an important Bill on this basis alone simply brings the entire institution into disrepute. People in Wales have just lost a series of important new health measures, which had been worked upon for years. We could have broken the pairing agreement to get this through, but that is not the way we do business. Elin Jones has clearly been put in an impossible position by her group and that is deeply regrettable as she has done so much to shape the final proposals.

– Welsh Labour source

The Health Minister, Mark Drakeford, said he was "deeply disappointed" and predicted "widespread anger" at the bill's defeat. He said five years of careful preparation had been wasted.

[The Public Health Bill] would have introduced important new measures to improve the provision of pharmacy services across Wales and the provision of public toilets for young and old. It would have introduced a ban on intimate piercing for children under 16 and new outdoor smoke-free places in hospital grounds, children's playgrounds and schools.

– Health Minister Mark Drakford AM

Mr Drakeford also defended the controversial attempt to restrict the use of e-cigarettes, which are seen by many AMs as a way of helping people to stop smoking. He said he'd wanted to "protect a generation who have grown up in a smoke-free environment from re-normalising smoking".

  1. Nick Powell

Public Health Bill defeated

The Public Health Bill has been defeated in the Senedd after the final vote on the proposed law was tied with 26 votes for and 26 against.

The Presiding Officer was then required to use her casting vote to halt the legislation.

E-cigarette ban fails after Plaid Cymru withdraw support. Credit: PA Images

The Welsh Government, which has no majority in the Assembly, had been relying on the support of Plaid Cymru AMs to pass its proposals, which included restrictions on the smoking of e-cigarettes.

Relations between the two parties broke down this afternoon following a row over earlier legislation.

The defeat was the final act before the Presiding Officer, Dame Rosemary Butler, announced the end of the 2011-2016 Assembly.

It won't meet again before it's dissolved next month, prior to the election in May.

  1. Nick Powell

Plaid say Labour were offered way out of defeat

Plaid Cymru have said that the party offered to support the recall of the Assembly before it's dissolved next month if Labour would agree to dropping restrictions on e-cigarettes from the Public Health Bill. The move followed the breakdown of co-operation between the two parties after the Public Services minister, Leighton Andrews claimed that Plaid had been a "cheap date" when he needed support for his Local Government Bill.

On the very last day of the Assembly, Leighton Andrews has shown a disrespect for parties and individual AMs seeking to create a consensus across political divides. He chose to belittle cooperation and put his own Government’s legislation in jeopardy. This afternoon, Plaid Cymru proposed to Welsh Government that the Bill should be withdrawn before the vote and that the Assembly should be reconvened immediately after Easter to vote on a Bill with all sections on e-cigarettes removed. Plaid Cymru would have supported that legislation.

– Plaid Cymru Spokesperson

Until today, the Government had thought it would get its legislation passed although all the opposition parties were against the e-cigarette restrictions. That's because Plaid had allowed two of its AMs, including its Health Spokesperson, Elin Jones, to vote in line with their personal wish to see the use of e-cigarettes discouraged. Ms Jones and the other AM -Llyr Gruffydd- have now been instructed to vote against.

The expected defeat of the Government tonight will be almost the final event in the Senedd before the Mace is removed later this evening, marking the end of the 2011-2016 Assembly. The Labour Government has survived for five years despite not having an overall majority and only faces losing a major piece of legislation on the very last day that the Assembly will sit before the election. There's expected to be a tied vote, with the Presiding Officer, Dame Rosemary Butler required to then use her casting vote to stop the Bill proceeding.

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