POLITICIANS are calling for Parliament to set an example to British smokers by becoming more “vape friendly”.
MPs are hoping for a rule change which would stop e-cigarette users being treated like tobacco smokers at government buildings in London.
Vapers are currently forced to use designated outdoor areas alongside smokers in the Houses of Parliament which has been described as non sensical and like “putting an alcoholic into a bar” at a committee hosted by MP Norman Lamb.
The call for a more vape friendly Parliament came at a special committee which coincided with last month’s public health campaign VApril, which encouraged smokers to make the switch to e-cigarettes for a month.
During the debate, a number of anti-smoking and pro-vaping groups spoke to MPs to talk about the current state of the vaping industry and plans for its future – one of which was to encourage vaping in Parliament itself.
John Dunne, director of the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) said: “We have talked about public health leading by example. I know this subject has come up at an APPG (All-Party Parliamentary Group) in this very building. There is an opportunity for Government and this House to show the way forward. For instance, there are two areas in this building where you can vape. Most of the Members who came to the APPG did not even know where those places were and they had been here for many years.
He added: “Pushing vapers into an area with smokers is like putting an alcoholic into a bar. It just does not make sense, but the Government and this House have an opportunity to show the way forward.”
MP Mark Pawsey added to the debate by saying: “Even in our own Parliament vapers are treated the same as smokers, forced into outdoor areas far removed from their places of work. It is time we practice what we preach and make Parliament ‘vape friendly’. That is why we are seeking to change the rules in Parliament so we can set an example to the public and businesses across the country.”
While a decision is yet to be made, the committee organisers of the VApril Challenge reported its inaugural year had been a success, with close to 1000 smokers making the switch to vaping.
Those signed up to take the challenge were encouraged to take up a VApril Masterclass offered by UKVIA members in a total of 58 stores across 11 cities in the UK. Further afield VApril reached over 2 million users on social media and its message spread internationally across countries including South Africa, America, New Zealand and Australia as well as a number of countries across Asia.
VApril came after evidence recently published by Public Health England, highlighted that vaping is likely to be at least 95% less harmful than smoking and that there are substantial health benefits from completely switching from conventional cigarettes to e-cigarettes.