The first summit on electronic cigarettes in Wales is being held today in Swansea. One of the world’s leading experts on e-cigarettes will challenge the concern that e-cigarettes are a gateway for young people to smoke conventional tobacco cigarettes. Professor Peter Hajek, Director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Queen Mary University of London, said “If my children were to try a nicotine product, I would prefer this to be an e-cigarette rather than a conventional cigarette.”

Professor Hajek added, “The concern that e-cigarettes would lure young people to smoking has not been supported by evidence. About half of non-smokers who experiment with cigarettes progress to daily smoking. In a striking contrast to this alarming effect, among non-smokers experimenting with e-cigarettes, virtually nobody progresses to daily use.”

ASH Wales is organising the Wales Tobacco or Health Network symposium as the Welsh Government is consulting on a proposal to ban the use of e-cigarettes in enclosed public places and workplaces. The Public Health Wales Bill proposes that e-cigarettes should be banned in the same way as conventional tobacco products under the Smoke-Free Regulations. The Welsh Government is concerned that the widespread use of e-cigarettes could lead to the normalising of smoking in public.

ASH Wales feels that there is not enough evidence at the moment to support such a ban on e-cigarettes.

“We should be cautious of taking steps that could undermine those who are using e-cigarettes to help them to stop or cut down on smoking. ASH Wales recommends that premises should continue to be allowed to make decisions for themselves on the use of e-cigarettes, although we recognise that there may be environments where the use of these devices is inappropriate.

“We need to maximise the opportunities for people to give up smoking or reduce the number of cigarettes that they smoke and at the same time minimise the threats to public health from the tobacco industry. ASH Wales would like to see more evidence on the long-term effects of e-cigarettes before we support a ban on using e-cigarettes in public places,”

Elen de Lacy, Chief Executive of ASH Wales

The Wales Tobacco or Health Network symposium “Electronic Cigarettes: Wales’ Next move?” will be held in the Idris Davies Hall, Tapestri, Swansea today.

If you would like to find out more about e-cigarettes, visit our topic page here.