Friday, 13 March 2009

E-cigarettes and the smoking ban

When the smoking ban came in, Lib Dems were split by the issue. You could legitimately use key liberal arguments on either side. I argued the point against Stephen Williams MP at a student meeting - I opposed the ban on the grounds of individual freedom to wreck your own lungs; he supported it on the basis that smoking in public caused unfair risk to others. We were both quoting Mill's famous harm principle on opposite sides of the same debate!

The whole thing was confused even further by the legislation itself, which defined "public place" very widely, including privately-run businesses that were open to the public. That made it even harder to find the dividing-line between personal rights and public menace.

The device that's now in the news is the e-cigarette, a fake cigarette which lets you inhale a fine mist of pure nicotine. Currently unregulated in the UK, various campaign groups (including ASH) are calling for selling restrictions similar to those in place for cigarettes.

The key difference between an e-cigarette and the real thing is that the e-cigarette poses no risk to others in the vicinity. It doesn't pump smoke, tar, or carbon monoxide into the atmosphere. The only person who might be harmed is the person using it. On that basis, I'd argue that any regulation should be very light. Subject to the usual health and safety rules that you'd expect, there's no good reason for making it difficult to get hold of and "smoke" these devices.

6 comments:

Julian H said...

Good to see you back, Guv.

Jonny Wright said...

Cheers mate! Been a while. Will keep it going from now on.

Anonymous said...

These devices certainly don't emit ang second hand smoke. Even to the user himself the only active ingredient is the nicotine, which although a very addictive drug, is not in itself considered carcinogenic. Of course it's best for everyone to stop smoking completely without any replacement habit, but some people just can't do that. For those these things could be really helpful.
Hermann
Cannot Stop Smoking

Newmania said...

If you had one working bollock you would be screaming at the fuckers who have ruined the pub .
Two sides of the arguement my arse , one side and one lot of twaddle invented to make health facsists look like something else.

One proper survey - No evidence of a passive smoking risk.

Liberals as always prove to be a useless collection of no showers when it comes to defending Liberty

Julian H said...

Jonny Wright says: "I opposed the ban on the grounds of individual freedom".

Newmania says: "Liberals as always prove to be a useless collection of no showers when it comes to defending Liberty".

What's it like being so incessantly angry, Newmania?

Jonny Wright said...

Ta Julian!