DEBATE: Should vaping be banned in pubs?

MANY people not used to frequenting licenced premises have admitted surprise at the number of people vaping in public houses despite 'smoking' being banned in such premises.

Some research on the issue revealed that no laws were being broken as vaping is not covered by the Irish smoking ban.

A number of TDs have been campaigning for a vaping ban in all public indoor areas in order to bring it into line with the smoking ban. But, to date, nothing of a substantive nature has happened.

The initiative, it appears, is left to the owners of companies and establishments.

For example, Iarnród Éireann, Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann have banned vaping completely from their vehicles, as have Aer Lingus and Ryanair.

The HSE, unsurprisingly, banned vaping from all of its buildings and properties. So why, the question is being rightly asked, are some drinking and eating establishments allowing their customers to vape when tobacco smokers are forced by law to adjourn to a smoking area outside?

It makes an ass of the law and the longer the rules and regulations for e-smoking are unclear, the more confused the members of the public are going to get.

Furthermore, non-smokers who find themselves placed in a situation where they are breathing in vaper fumes are far from pleased about the situation.

Deputy Micheál Martin, the elected representative responsible for the introduction of the smoking ban on March 29, 2004, during his term as Minister for Health, asked the current Minister for Health, Simon Harris, last September to outline his plans to introduce legislation on the use of e-cigarettes inside public venues.

Responding on behalf of the minister, Deputy Catherine Byrne said: “I have no plans to introduce legislation prohibiting the use of e-cigarettes in public places. The introduction of workplace smoking ban was based on clear and unequivocal evidence that second hand smoke is harmful to non-smokers. That evidence base does not exist for the aerosol generated from e-cigarettes.

“However, individual organisations/companies are free to introduce an e-cigarette free policy if they so choose.”

It is not good enough. E-cigarette smokers should be treated exactly the same as tobacco smokers until it is definitively proven that vaper fumes are unharmful to non-smoking members of the public.

Full stop.