You’re Very Lucky, Vaping in the UK...
It has one of the world’s more pragmatic approaches to ecigarettes and vaping compared to some countries. Of course there are regulations, there needs to be. And some of it is just etiquette dressed up. Despite this vaping still seems to suffer from an attitude of guilty until proven innocent.
But there's another problem that stems directly from this – where’s the consistency?
Just this week Scottish hospitals were called to lift the ban on vaping in hospital grounds. Public Health expert, Professor Linda Bauld to the Tobacco Journal that she believed it sent the wrong message to those trying to quit smoking. Ecigarettes were banned in all Scottish hospital grounds in 2015, but individual health boards can overturn the ban if they choose. And NHS Lothian and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde are now joined by Tayside in allowing vaping on hospital grounds, while Fife and Lanarkshire boards are keeping the ban in place.
Whereas smoking got it sorted – or had it done for it by lawmakers – you can’t smoke in a public place, and everyone knows the rules. But for or against it, vaping doesn’t benefit from the same consistency.
Around the World
For a host of reasons – legal, moral, cultural, religious – not every country will have the same approach to the same issue. In the UK, in the absence of definitive rules, vaping is somewhat left to the property owner to decide. With smaller, independent pubs you’d quite easily find smokers standing outside, but vapers standing inside. Go to a typical major coffee chain and vapers and smokers alike will be standing on the pavement.
Taking another UK example you can’t vape on any of the major railways – unless you travel on Southeastern Trains, who allow vaping on their platforms and in their trains – nor in any Premier League Football ground except Burnley who have introduced dedicated vaping areas. The major UK airports have all banned vaping too except Heathrow which also has dedicated vaping areas.
...great news if you’re a Burnley fan who lives in Kent and flies to work from Heathrow...
And there’s definitely a trend of the major chains taking a more smoking-like approach to vaping (even though someone who vapes is likely trying to escape harmful smoke) while smaller independent businesses allow vapers more freedom.
But if the approach to vaping is not consistent, what about the penalties for breaking the rules?
The list of countries where vaping and ecigarettes are banned outright includes Columbia, Indonesia, Uruguay, UAE, Qatar, Oman, Mexico, Jordan, Indonesia, Cambodia, Argentina and Brazil. Each has its own reasons for making vape illegal.
In Singapore, where vaping is also banned, you can be fined $5,000 and imprisoned for up to six months for vaping. Subsequent convictions could double the penalties. And take Brunei; you face a $300 fine for the first offence and $500 for the second if found vaping in a non-smoking area.
Over the Top?
In 2013 a Manchester City fan was arrested and had his season ticket suspended for taking a sneaky vape while standing behind the goal. The man’s MP, a fellow city fan, intervened and his season ticket was reinstated. But vaping has moved on since 2013 hasn’t it? Hopefully these days there’d be a more appropriate approach – ‘don’t do it again or you’re out sunshine…’ would probably work just as well.
And What Would Boots Say?
Last year the 15-year-old actress (and recently the voice of kids’ favourite Dora the Explorer) Fatima Ptacek was suspended from her $47,000-a-year private school after being caught vaping in a bathroom with two other girls.
But now Ptacek is also being named in a lawsuit filed by the parents of one of the other girls. The claim is that while Ptacek was suspended for three days a 14-year-old accomplice was ‘forced’ to leave the school.
It’s claimed the younger girl was acting under peer pressure to look good in front of the Dora star and that the star’s fame played a part in their different treatment. They weren’t vaping nicotine either, just a caramel flavour allegedly.
Most States in the US Take a Tough Approach to Minors and Vaping...
In Illinois last year new laws created penalties of up to $200 and 50 hours of community service for minors in possession of vaping products. Schools in North Carolina, New Jersey, Washington and Connecticut, are also treating vaping devices in the same way as bongs and pipes. Guilty students could have long suspensions, be required to take drug tests and have possession of drug paraphernalia added to their school record.
But if vape is treated legislated as a tobacco product how can it be justice that a college or school is allowed to brand the ‘guilty’ as drug user?
When the punishment doesn’t fit the crime would it be unfair to believe it means that someone, somewhere is running scared…