DO you really want to know what gets up my nose?
It’s got five letters, starts with a V and isn’t a Vicks Inhaler!
The answer is, of course, Vapes.
The craze for vaping not only gets up my nose; it gets down my throat and generally winds me up to the point where it is not good for my blood pressure.
Believe it or not, I’m a tolerant fellow.
For example, I will concede that people have the right to weigh up the personal risk to their health and smoke cigarettes– just as long as they don’t give me a ‘Platters Moment’ (Some Gets In Your Eyes!).
My opinion on e-cigarettes and vapes is roughly the same – tolerable in the hands of adults who understand the risks and ‘smoke’ in areas which do not cause me grief.
On the flip side, I have a Moan List about vapes and vaping –
- The legal age for buying vapes is 18, so I’m very distressed when I see younger teens vaping.
- Disposable vapes litter our streets, posing a risk to the environment and human health. They contain Lithium-ion batteries which contain hazardous materials which can leach into the soil and water. They can be a danger to younger children, who, attracted by the bright colours, may pick them up.
- The plumes of smoke some vapers create when walking through town centres winds me up. I don’t want to walk through mini clouds every 20 steps. Besides, has anyone done any research into the possibility vaping moisture and clouds may spread Covid and other bugs?
- The ‘cloud factor’ also has me seeing red when driving. The open driver’s side window of the white van in front of me on Carmarthen Road this week was giving off so much in the form of vape clouds that I seriously thought the vehicle was on fire.
- During a visit to a large retail store this week (no names as they all seem to be big on vapes), I stopped by an end-of-aisle ‘gondola’. Well, it wasn’t so much of a gondola as the front end of a medium-sized yacht – a retail space covered with the A to Z of vaping and more ‘flavours’ than you’d find in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.
All of the above could, of course, be over-reaction on my part . . . yet more signs that I am turning into a Welsh version of Victor Meldrew!
Surveys can sometimes be very unreliable and I usually prefer to rely on the evidence of my own eyes.
So, my own ‘Milltir Sgwâr’ (square mile) survey of Swansea City Centre this week turned up no fewer than 10 specialist vape outlets (that’s not including other corner shops and stores where vapes are available). It is a similar story in Neath, Port Talbot and Llanelli.
Plainly, vapes are big business.
The problem – for that is what I think it is – is now being debated by greater minds than mine.
For example, John Griffiths MS weighed in last week with an excellent article on the Fabians Cymru Welsh Fabians webpage.
The group is part of The Fabian Society, Britain’s oldest political think-tank, so these guys know a thing or two about promoting public debate on key areas of Government policy (both in Wales and the wider UK).
Senedd member Mr Griffiths is singing from the same hymn-sheet as me when it comes to vaping, declaring, ‘Clouds of vapour and a variety of smells contaminate the air’.
Mr Griffiths points out –
‘Vaping and e-cigarettes are used by some as a tool to help quit smoking. A legal vape cartridge must not hold more than two ml of liquid, which allows for around 600 puffs.
‘Although thought less harmful than smoking, vaping can have negative effects on the heart and lungs, and we do not yet know the harms from long-term use. ‘The risk of nicotine dependency varies between e-cigarette products, with disposable pod vapes allowing particularly high levels of nicotine to be inhaled, and therefore a greater risk.
‘I am sure I will not be the only elected representative that has had constituents raise with them the problem of vaping by young people in school.
‘There is a strong debate on what is the best course of action for us to take to protect our young people and people of all ages from the harms of vaping.
‘There are 29 countries around the world which have decided to ban the retail trading of any equipment related to vaping, including Brazil, India and Thailand. Meanwhile, 14 countries have decided to ban vaping in enclosed/semi-enclosed public places, workplaces, and public transport, with a punitive approach taken for non-compliance in countries like the UAE.
‘A different view holds that a ban on sales would be counterproductive to the campaign to further drive down smoking rates, given vaping can be effective in cutting down or giving up cigarettes.
‘I believe a compromise here could be to make vapes only available at pharmacies by prescription as a smoking cessation tool.
‘Many of those who would stop short of a ban suggest restrictions on the marketing and promotion of vaping products, particularly to children and young people is what’s needed.
‘Currently, the packaging is often multicoloured and appears designed to entice younger people. Why is it, rather than having generic flavours such as mint or menthol, vapes are available which are clearly marketed to attract our young people.’
Always happy to modify my opinions, I’m now with Mr Griffiths on the idea of prescription-only vapes.
And, having cleared the air – and my lungs – of the topic of vaping, I will aim for a peaceful countryside walk this weekend.
That’ll keep my blood pressure down . . . just as long as I don’t spot any fly-tipping!