View Full Version : The Pub Curmudgeon - Two steps back, one step forward

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02-02-2016, 12:24
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Last year, the Labour-run Welsh Government put forward plans to ban vaping in all indoor public places in the same way as smoking has been banned. This was widely criticised as being draconian and indeed possibly counter-productive, as many people switch to vaping as a means of stopping smoking. Perhaps surprisingly, the most vocal opponents have been the Welsh Liberal Democrats (http://www.welshlibdems.wales/_this_bill_won_t_improve_public_health_it_will_har m_it_kirsty_williams_am) under Kirsty Williams. It makes a refreshing change to see the LibDems actually standing up for something liberal.
After due consideration, health minister Mark Drakeford has come up with slightly watered-down proposals (http://www.morningadvertiser.co.uk/Legal/Legislation/Vaping-Wet-led-Welsh-pubs-escape-e-cigarette-ban) which would allow vaping in some enclosed places, including pubs that did not either serve food or allow children. That sounds suspiciously like the proposals relating to smoking in the 2005 Labour manifesto, which of course they later “welshed” on.
These would have led to a two-tier pub trade, divided between down-to-earth, working-class boozers with no kids or food, and sanitised midde-class dining outlets filled with the smell of cooking and the tinkle of children’s happy laughter. No prizes for guessing which I would have preferred! Obviously this would have been preferable to the current situation, but it still would have been far from ideal. Many pubs where food was only a sideline would have ended up dropping it to keep their drinking customers.
I’m not sure whether vapers have yet reached the critical mass where pubs would think it worthwhile to abandon food to retain their business, but it’s certainly the case that where the vaper goes, his or her friends will follow. And Wales, perhaps more than any other part of the UK, certainly still has plenty of basic, wet-led, adults-only boozers.
Surely the best solution would to allow pubs and other businesses to choose whether to allow vaping or not, and let the market decide. Just as it should have been with smoking. Let’s hope the Welsh Government eventually see sense.

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