I know the Royal College of Physicians' report on e-cigarettes is the big story today.
I'll post something on that later. But first I want to finish what I started in my previous post, published late last night.
It wasn't hard to find the evidence I was looking for. It was there all along but I didn't know where to look. It took a little digging but I quickly discovered what I had suspected to be true all along.
By imposing a 'voluntary' ban on smoking at Caswell Bay, Swansea Council has ignored the result of its own public consultation announced to great fanfare last October.
How do I know? Well, attached to the agenda and minutes of a meeting of the Cabinet Advisory Committee on December 9, 2015, is a document, Consultation on Smoke-Free Public Spaces, that has all the results.
You can read it for yourself but in the context of the Caswell Bay policy the results that particularly interest me are the following:
Asked to 'agree or disagree that all beaches in Swansea and Gower should become smoke free', the reaction from respondents was:
Strongly agree/agree - 36.8%
Strongly disagree/disagree - 61.7%
Don't know - 1.5%
Curiously (and more pertinent perhaps in view of the Caswell Bay pilot scheme), when asked to 'agree or disagree that some beaches but not all [my emphasis] should become smoke free', opposition was even more pronounced:
Strongly agree/agree - 24%
Strongly disagree/disagree - 73.1%
Don't know - 3%
Interestingly only 14.7% of respondents were current smokers (10.4% daily, 4.3% occasionally). 22.7% were ex-smokers, 22.3% said they used e-cigarettes and 40.3% had never smoked.
In other words, even though less than 15% of respondents were current smokers there was still a clear majority opposed or strongly opposed to extending smoking bans to public beaches.
Ignoring that small detail, Swansea Council has gone ahead and introduced a 'voluntary' smoking ban at Caswell Bay with the support (naturally) of ASH Wales and other interfering busybodies.
The Caswell Bay policy is described as a one-year pilot scheme. I imagine it's what they intended all along. The outcome of the consultation was a minor hiccup.
In 12 months expect a report saying how successful the ban has been - pollution slashed, a huge increase in life expectancy in Swansea, sealife restored to levels not seen for millions of years etc etc.
The council did at least listen to respondents on the subject of e-cigarettes. Asked whether vaping should be included in a voluntary ban, respondents said:
Yes - 31.7%
No - 68.3%
Result: vaping has (rightly) been excluded from the 'voluntary' ban.
The question is, why were these results not made public with the same fanfare that accompanied the announcement of the survey?
Brighton was the same. Widespread coverage of the council's plan to hold a public consultation with headlines implying a beach smoking ban was inevitable, but hardly any coverage of the fact that a significant majority of respondents were opposed to extending smoking bans to parks and beaches.
At least in Brighton the council quietly dropped any plans they may have had to ban smoking on the beach.
In contrast Swansea Council has chosen to ignore the result of its own survey and press on regardless.
Majority support doesn't make a policy right (outdoor smoking bans are wrong, period) but you can see how it might influence decision-makers.
Implementing such a measure without that support - having gone through the charade of a public consultation - makes a mockery of the process.
Oh, and here's another result:
Asked whether making beaches smoke free would encourage them to visit them more often, respondents said:
More frequently - 24.1%
Make no difference - 37.5%
Less frequently - 38.2%
Good news for beach side cafes and other local businesses - not!
For the full results of the Swansea survey go to Consultation on Smoke-Free Public Spaces.