London has always been one of the most forward thinking cities on the face of the earth, but the new ecigarette use ban enacted by Transport for London, or TfL, is a step backward.
The move essentially outlaws ecig vapor on all trains, buses, stations and the Tube throughout London. Of course there has already been a smoking ban in place for a long time now in all of the same places the TfL has banned vaping. In fact, it was all the way back in 1987 when a smoking ban was instituted for all parts of the Underground, due to a major fire at the King’s Cross station.
With its history, it isn’t too surprising to see Transport for London tackle electronic cigarette safety in some way or another, but the across the board rule can also be seen as a harsh one.
Vaping has become a key component of many London smokers’ attempts to switch to something else. This as evidenced by the huge sales surge the entire UK has been experiencing when it comes to electronic cigarettes and accessores. The market continues to grow and supporting vaping of all types and up until now ecigs were an excellent way for smokers to get their satisfaction while not breaking the TfL smoking ban.
It is interesting to note that the e-cigarette ban actually came into effect last August but was only very recently acknowledged publicly. This was done in an attempt to minimize the response TfL were to receive from passengers, many of which could and would be rightfully upset.
Ecig vapor was already banned on the Tube, but the expansion of this e-cigarette ban to all TfL run locations took things further. What Transport for London cleverly did to avoid the commotion was simply change the conditions of carriage. It now reads: “For safety reasons, on our buses and trains and in our bus and Underground stations you must not smoke or use an electronic cigarette (‘vape’).”
Anyone that transgresses this ecigarette ban opens himself or herself up for prosecution.
According to TfL Director of Health, Safety and Environment Jill Collis, this move to ban e-cig vapor was done primarily with safety in mind.
She says that the inclusion of ecigarettes to their smoking ban would “mitigate any residual potential fire risk and reduce the potential for staff assault by providing clarity and consistency in the treatment of all customers using our services.”
Collis confirmed that the change was made in August and that the clarity provided by it would avoid confusion as well as “allow staff to approach any customer either smoking or using an Electronic Smoking Device with confidence, ensuring that the No Smoking ban is fully enforced.”
While we no doubt are in favor of ecig safety regulations, both within the ecigarette industry and for those affected by it, we have to call Transport for London out for this one.
One of the reasons that electronic cigarettes are such a breakthrough technology is the very fact that it reduces the risk of fire. There isn’t any burning going on with ecig use like there is with traditional tobacco cigarettes, so the risk of fire is obviously highly minimalized. We also can’t think of any other safety risk that the public would encounter that could spur this type of an all-out move by TfL.
From our view, this ecigarette ban seems to have more to do with making those people who confuse ecig vapor with regular tobacco smoke feel comfortable. Even though we always stress that ecigarette use should be considerate in the face of those who may be wary of it, there are other ways to go about that. Perhaps a “vaping zone” can be set up so that those who don’t want to be around ecig vapor won’t feel impinged upon.
Whatever the solution is, an outright ecigarette ban isn’t it. A city with such prestige as London should be going back to its forward thinking days and realizing that vaping will do a lot of good for it and remove a lot of smoke from its air. Instead of stigmatizing it along with traditional tobacco smoke, Londoners should be finding a way to better integrate ecigarette use into their society.
This is a wish we have over here in America too, and we’ll continue to hope that this trend of bans will make way for a more logical approach.