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Campaigners urge Scottish Government to reject new laws on e-cigs and tobacco

Fri 2nd January, 2015

Forest has urged the Scottish Government to reject proposals to ban the use of electronic cigarettes in enclosed public places and prohibit advertisements for "the fastest growing supermarket product of 2014".

Responding to the Scottish Government's Consultation on Electronic Cigarettes and Strengthening Tobacco Control in Scotland which closed on Friday [2nd January], the smokers' group Forest said:

"There is no evidence e-cigarettes are harmful. There is also very little evidence that non-smokers, including children, are using e-cigarettes as a gateway to tobacco. 

"Overwhelmingly the vast majority of vapers are existing or ex-smokers, many of whom are using the products as a means to quitting smoking. If the Scottish Government is genuinely interested in harm reduction it would encourage smokers to switch to e-cigarettes. 

"Excessive regulations on advertising will undoubtedly stop or reduce the rate at which that is currently happening. The inability to effectively market their products will also impact on the development by manufacturers of new and better e-cigarettes in the future."
Opposing the proposal that the Scottish Government should take action on the use of e-cigarettes in enclosed public places, Forest wrote:

"The threat of a comprehensive ban on the use of e-cigarettes in enclosed public places is as bad if not worse than the smoking ban. 

"There is no evidence that bystanders are at any risk from exposure to the vapour exhaled by consumers. 

"For smokers who have taken the decision to cut down or quit smoking and have found e-cigarettes to be a useful smoking cessation aid, legislation to ban vaping indoors would be the final straw. 

"It would confirm that the Scottish Government has little interest in public health or evidence based policies but is merely interested in controlling people’s behaviour to the nth degree."

Urging the Government to reject a proposal to ban e-cigarette advertising, Forest said:

"Excessive regulation on advertising will inevitably compromise the ability of businesses to market and sell a product that could have a significant impact on public health if it helps smokers switch from combustible products to electronic cigarettes. 

"This in turn will have an impact on those consumers who wish to quit smoking and want to use a product that mimics the act of smoking without burning tobacco."

Forest also wants the Government to say no to a ban on smoking in cars carrying children and a national ban on smoking on NHS grounds.
Describing legislation to ban smoking in cars with children as a "gross over-reaction to a very small problem", the group wrote:

"In practice very few adults still light up in cars carrying children. The vast majority have changed their behaviour voluntarily without government intervention and should be applauded, not demonised with unnecessary legislation that even its supporters accept will be difficult to enforce. 

"Banning smoking in a private vehicle represents a serious invasion of a citizen’s private space. What next? A ban on smoking in the home if children are present?

"Education is always better than legislation and we would welcome the opportunity to work with the Scottish Government to encourage the small number of adults who still smoke in cars carrying children to change their behaviour without the need for heavy-handed legislation that a hard-pressed police force would find very difficult to enforce."

Opposing legislation that would make it an offence to smoke on NHS grounds, Forest wrote:

"Smoking in the open air presents no risk to the health of non-smokers so a comprehensive ban on smoking on NHS grounds is disproportionate to the problem.  

"The size and location of hospital grounds can vary enormously so it should be left to individual hospitals to decide on a policy rather than having a national one-size-fits-all policy forced upon them."

On the subject of smoking in children's outdoor areas, Forest said:

"We don't condone smoking in children’s outdoor areas but we believe a national ban is heavy-handed and unnecessary. Relatively few adults still do it and there is no evidence that those who do light up in open air play areas pose any health risk to those around them, including children.

"It has become fashionable for anti-smoking campaigners to say that adults must be role models for children and not smoke in view of them, but there is no evidence that the sight of a stranger smoking influences children to start smoking. 

"In general adult smokers know how to behave when it comes to smoking around children and they don’t need yet another law telling them what to do. It is not the job of government to micromanage people’s lives, especially when the overwhelming majority of smokers have already taken steps to change their behaviour voluntarily. 

"We are concerned that legislation will result not only in the further stigmatisation of smokers but will lead to a ban on smoking in other outdoor spaces where children might conceivably be present, even though there will be no threat to their health if someone lights up. 

"At best this is an issue that should be left to local authorities. It is not a matter for national government."

In a dig at at the Scottish Government's insistence that all respondents should disclose whether they have any direct or indirect links to or receive funding from the tobacco industry, Forest, which is funded by the tobacco industry, added:

"In view of the threat that e-cigarettes pose to other nicotine delivery systems such as nicotine patches and gum we are disappointed the Scottish Government has not asked respondents to disclose whether they have any direct or indirect links to, or receive funding from, the pharmaceutical industry.

"For the sake of transparency we believe you should also have asked respondents to disclose whether they receive public funding, given that this sometimes results in a phenomenon known as 'government lobbying government'."

To read Forest's full submission click here.

[1] Marketing, January 2, 2015

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