Saturday 30 November 2013

Getting the vapours

Sucking on a biro? No, using an e-fag
Funny: I was thinking of writing a few words about e-cigarettes when Curmudgeon pipped me to the post.

I was in the Endeavour in Whitby last August when I glanced to my left and saw what seemed to be a woman smoking, and so looked again more closely. She laughed and said, "You thought I was smoking a cigarette, didn't you?" I had to agree, but was interested, as I hadn't seen one close up before: they do look superficially like cigarettes and emit something that looks like smoke but is apparently water vapour. As far as I can see, they can pose no risk to the health or comfort of third parties. So why are they being banned?

Mitchells and Butlers, Wetherspoons and now Fullers have forbidden the use of e-cigarettes in any of their pubs. The reason is that it apparently causes anxiety to other customers, and the staff are under enough pressure as it is without having to check what people are using. While it's understandable that licensees would want to avoid the draconian penalties for contravention of the smoking ban, these aren't covered by it so there's no legal problem. It's just that you can't tell from behind the bar what the customer is using.

ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) are surprisingly sensible on this issue, cautioning businesses against introducing bans too hastily:
  • Not all e-cigarettes look like tobacco cigarettes.
  • Forcing people who are trying to quit to go outside with the smokers seems unfair, and may sabotage their efforts.
  • If e-cigarettes become licensed as a medical product, they could become less of an issue over time.
Perhaps the solution would involve banning only those that look like cigarettes, so that the problem of differentiating them from ordinary cigarettes would vanish in a puff of vapour.


  1. I think they are increasingly popular on price. Go in any pound shop and you'll see an e-cig by the counter claiming to be 40 cigs worth of puff for buttons. Actual smoking is pricey these days.

    But as you say, Its ain't banned by law. I suspect when someone gets round to analysing what's in them they might not be considered as harmless as they are now.

    But pubs can choose for themselves, and if some pubs appear more welcoming than others then you have consumers in a market deciding what they want. Maybe your local wet led boozer will allow them and the posh dining pub will have no truck with it and people can make the choice.

    Apparently airports are installing areas for them distinct from smoking areas, on the basis that most people don't want to be around an e cig any more than a regular tab.

  2. Whether they look like normal fags is irrelevant - the issue is that the vapour superficially looks like fag smoke.

  3. My local has banned them after a couple of incidents with customers objecting to other customers using them. The landlady says its just easier to ban then to stop arguements

  4. Well, if pubs want to turn customers away, that's up to them. Pubs don't have to ban vapers - if they do, and then complain about lack of trade, then I have zero sympathy.


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