Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Outrage as ecigs to be banned from NHS Scotland property

In a move which has caught many within the vaping community by surprise, it was this evening announced that NHS Scotland is to ban the use of electronic cigarettes on all NHS Scotland property. This despite the fact that electronic cigarettes are seen by many as a "healthier option" to their tobacco counterparts and indeed for many people this form the crux of their battle against tobacco addiction.

In what many see as state dictatorship yet again, this move comes despite the growing popularity of electronic cigarettes and evidence to suggest they are a useful element in the fight against tobacco addiction. While electronic cigarettes cannot be sold as medical devices, or indeed smoke cessation options, many people have already made their own minds up.

Will this be replicated across the UK?

Many people may not know but the health service in Scotland is devolved to the Scottish government and therefore plays no role in decision-making across the UK. This is not the first time that the Scottish government has attempted to "tell the public what to do" with a minimum alcohol pricing policy falling by the wayside due to legal issues. It will be interesting to see what reaction this prompts from the vaping community in Scotland, an area the UK which has traditionally had heavy smoking communities.

The ban on NHS Scotland property will not come into play for "a few weeks" and indeed the newscasts are already reporting the fact this is not an enforceable law. Those who have visited any NHS facilities across the UK will be well aware of the various smoking corners where tobacco smokers tend to congregate. Will we see security officers patrolling NHS Scotland grounds? Will we see the introduction of fines for those caught using electronic cigarettes?

Is this overkill?

It was hoped that the UK authorities would refrain from blanket bans for electronic cigarettes, unlike their state authority counterparts in the US, although it seems that we may be entering a very different phase. So far there is no medical evidence to suggest that electronic cigarettes offer any real long-term health issues although local and national governments seem intent on grouping them together with their tobacco counterparts.

Even this evening, just a few hours after the announcement, many medical professionals are suggesting this move could hit those looking to move away from tobacco cigarettes. There is even lukewarm support from parties which have historically been seen as slightly critical of the industry suggesting this is too much too soon. When you bear in mind that the UK authorities have committed themselves to reducing the number of tobacco smokers, via an array of smoking bans, it does not seem to make sense that they ignore medical opinion about electronic cigarettes.

Conclusion

We can only hope that the move by the Scottish NHS will not be replicated across the rest of the UK although it has to be said that the Scottish government has history meddling in consumer markets. The fact that the proposed law is in effect unenforceable does not seem to have played any role in the thought process of the Scottish NHS.

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