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Intense Desire Requests Calderdale Council To Review Inadequate Vaping Policy

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Updated to include response from Calderdale Council 

Intense Desire is based in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. The heart of the Calder Valley & indeed the Pennines. Recently there has been a lot of publicity surrounding a discovery by The Freedom Association of the complete lack of understanding and ignorance towards vaping by the majority of the Uk’s local Governments. The Freedom Association highlighted Calderdale Council, our local council, as one of the nations worst offenders.

On Monday the 14th of November at 6pm Andy Fielden & Geoffrey Fielden from Intense Desire attended the Calderdale Council Cabinet meeting to formally request a review of the reported inadequate policy on Vaping.

Speaking on behalf of Intense Desire Geoffrey Fielden submitted the following statement to the cabinet. “*A startling new survey by libertarian group The Freedom Association has found that most British local councils are ignoring the Governments official advice on electronic cigarettes.

Public Health England advise that policies should draw a clear line between vaping and smoking, recommend that vaping is allowed in at least some indoor areas, and warn that forcing vapers to use designated smoking areas is never acceptable. The Freedom Association decided to research how this was being applied by sending a freedom of information request to every council in the uk

The results make terrifying reading. Only one of 386 councils who responded (92.5%) of those contacted has a policy that allows indoor vaping. 3 others have a de facto policy that lets people vape at their desks, but only because they have no actual policy in place. Almost all the rest – 335 in total, treat vaping as smoking for all intents and purposes and 112 of these force vapers to use the same areas as Tobacco smokers.

Comments gathered by the Freedom Association Show the staggering extent of ignorance in local Government. Abendeenshire council considered vaping to be the same as lit tobacco – there are no differences. Basingstoke talk about “the smoking of e-cigarettes” Calderdale’s takes a stance committed to de normalisation in support of activists who claim vaping will undermine the now widely accepted view that smoking is unacceptable.

There is a staggering long list of similar ignorant statements. Many vaping advocates are wondering why such important health policy is left in the hands of people who are clearly inadequate?

*Source of this part of statement written by Fergus Mason http://www.vapingpost.com

In view of national condemnation of Calderdale’s position on vaping can there be a full review of policy taking in impartial advice from the Public Health England to create at least a balance?”

On closing his statement chairman Councillor Tim Swift thanked Geoffrey Fielden and assured him the statement would be put forward to Calderdale councils health spoke person Councillor Faisal Shoukat who was absent from the meeting & a full written response will be given in due course. We will of course update when we get this response.

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Response From Calderdale Council Regarding Vaping Policy

Councillor F Shoukat representing Calderdale Council submits written response on the 22nd of November 2016

Thank you for asking the above question at cabinet on 14 November, I would like to respond as follows.

With specific reference to your points you state that ‘Public Health England say that policies should draw a clear line between vaping and smoking, recommend that vaping is allowed in at least some indoor areas, and warn that forcing vapours to use designated smoking areas is never acceptable’

This is not an accurate portrayal of the PHE position. For example there is no reference to recommend that vaping is allowed in at least some indoor areas.

The PHE framework can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/use-of-e-cigarettes-in-public-places-and-workplaces

It acknowledges that workplace environments vary greatly and there is no one-size-fits-all approach; a factory or warehouse is a very different setting to a nursery school, with different considerations to make.

It sets out 5 key principles for an approach based on our current knowledge of e-cigarettes to guide policy making.

The framework does encourage organisations to consider both benefits and the risks when developing their own policies on e-cigarettes.

Different approaches will be appropriate in different places (so as you can appreciate this is a more complex task for local councils and considering that the guidance was only published at the end of the summer 2016), but yes policies should take account of the evidence and clearly distinguish vaping from smoking.

The 5 principles that will help guide the creation of a vaping policy that is right for them, cover the following

  • 1.Make clear distinction between vaping and smoking
  • 2.Ensure Policies are informed by the evidence on health risks to bystanders.
  • 3.Identify and manage risks of uptake by children and young people.
  • 4.Support smokers to stop smoking and stay smoke free.
  • 5.Support compliance with smoke free law and policies.

The PHE framework further makes the following considerations for policy development.

  • E-cigarette use is not covered by smoke free legislation and should not routinely be included in the requirements of an organisation’s smoke free policy.
  • Reasons other than the health risk to bystanders may exist for prohibiting e-cigarette use in all or part of a public place or workplace, such as commercial considerations and professional etiquette
  • People with asthma and other respiratory conditions can be sensitive to a range of environmental irritants, which could include e-cigarette vapour. The interest of such individuals should be taken into account when developing policies and adjustments made where necessary.
  • Vaping can in certain circumstances be a nuisance or distraction for people nearby. Where a decision is taken to allow vaping in an enclosed place, policies could consider some simple etiquette guidelines for vapers, such as minimising the production of visible vapour.
  • It is also worth noting that E-cigarettes are still a relatively new product. The evidence so far shows E-cigarettes are much safer than tobacco (although not risk free) and they have the potential to help give up a deadly addiction.

We also know that stop smoking services are the most effective way to treat tobacco dependence and services we commission are E-cigarette friendly.

It’s important the benefit of using them are maximised while reducing any negative impact, and as part of our work on tobacco control we will continue to take independent advice from Public Health England to set out our own policies.

The Council will be reviewing its policy in line with Public Health England advice.

It is also essential that we continue to monitor the evidence on uptake of E-Cigarettes, their health impact on individuals and populations, and their effectiveness for smoking cessation as the technology and products develop. Intelligence from our annual survey of children and young people indicates that some young people have progressed to smoking tobacco following vaping. As a council we have taken a precautionary principle in respect of vaping and taken the view that if E-Cigarettes are to do their job of making smoking less of a social norm, they must be clearly positioned as products that help adult smokers to quit. In this way, vaping becomes synonymous with the rejection of smoking.

Councilor Faisal Shoukat

Cabinet Member - Public Health and Inequalities. 

Reply Back To Councilor Faisal Shoukat

Dear Councillor Shoukat,

Thank you for your letter in reply to my cabinet question 14th November 2016. I’m very sorry you was not present but glad you got a copy of my speech.

Since Calderdale Council first made their policy we’ve all learned much more about the harm reducing potential for smokers who choose to use Vapourisers and switch to vaping as opposed to continue smoking far more damaging Tobacco products. Some experts have even gone as far as to claim they could be a game changer for public health, in particular by reducing the enormous health inequalities caused by smoking.

I also appreciate more research is needed on the long term effects on the use of Vapourisers and that Public Health England have concluded vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking Tobacco products, the other 5% giving plenty of leeway for this further research. Details of Public Health Englands Independent expert review can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/news/e-cigarettes-a...

I conclude, It’s in that spirit that I very much welcome the fact that the Council will be reviewing its policy in line with Public Health England’s advice.

Yours Sincerely

Geoffrey Fielden

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