Friday, 15 January 2016

Scottish government challenges scientists over electronic cigarettes

While the Scottish authorities were recently forced to backtrack in relation to a ban on electronic cigarette use on hospital premises, it was seems as though MSPs are still determined to control the industry. The Scottish government recently passed a bill banning the use of tobacco cigarettes in cars where children are present. When you bear a mind the raft of scientific and medical research suggesting the potential impact of secondary smoking this seems fair?

However, the Scottish government, in tandem with the Law Society of Scotland and the Children in Scotland pressure group, sought to extend this ban to electronic cigarettes. The move was rejected however the Scottish government has suggested it will “continue to monitor” the secondary smoking impact of electronic cigarettes on the immediate environment.

Why do politicians know best?

This move by the Scottish government has put it firmly at odds with many scientists and researchers who believe there are limited if any secondary smoking risks associated with electronic cigarettes. Indeed, a number of research programmes have highlighted the fact that only water vapour is released into the atmosphere by electronic cigarettes which very quickly disburses. Set against tobacco cigarette smoke, which can take some time to disburse and hangs in the air, it is difficult to see any direct comparison?

Those who have followed this story of late will be well aware that fines up to £100 have now been introduced for those using tobacco cigarettes in cars where children are present. It looks as though each and every move to “protect the public” seems to revolve around some kind of financial penalty? What next, a further increase in tobacco taxes for the good of the public?

What next?

In tandem with the Welsh government, which has been extremely aggressive in its treatment of the electronic cigarette industry, it seems that the Scottish authorities think likewise. At a time when government budgets are being stretched to the limit it is perhaps no surprise to see the introduction of various financial penalties. The bottom line is, if tobacco cigarettes really are as dangerous as politicians like to suggest, why have they never been banned outright?

The fact is that a total ban on tobacco cigarettes in years gone by would have stripped the authorities of the billions of pounds in taxes. For some reason when the UK government announces its annual budget to the House of Commons we automatically assume, and accept, that tax on cigarettes and alcohol will rise. Why? Why should products which are seen to be “unhealthy” attract more and more tax as opposed to simply extending restrictions?


The Scottish authorities were recently embarrassed after announcing a U-turn on the use of electronic cigarettes on NHS Scotland premises although it seems that politicians are still targeting the sector. Trying to pull electronic cigarettes under the same umbrella as their tobacco counterparts, in relation to the smoking ban in cars where children are present, seems desperate in the extreme. Scientific research continues to show the major differences between electronic cigarettes and tobacco products.

Why do politicians continually pursue their own agendas while ignoring evidence which does not suit their cause?

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