A tale of two interviews – vaping and cigarette butts
Tuesday, April 23, 2019 at 11:50
Simon Clark

Tuesday morning, two interviews.

The first was a brief chat with Nick Ferrari on LBC. I was asked last night to talk about a report the Press Association was running overnight.

According to the PA:

A leading health professor has accused Public Health England (PHE) of ignoring mounting evidence on the harmful effects of e-cigarettes.

Martin McKee, professor of European Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the UK was "out of step" with other parts of the world when it came to messages around the safety of vaping.

He said San Francisco had adopted a "sensible" policy in moving to ban e-cigarettes until their health effects are fully evaluated by the US government.

My reaction was to suggest that they contact vaping advocate Clive Bates, former director of ASH, or John Dunne, spokesman for the UK Vaping Industry Association, and I even gave LBC their numbers.

Maybe they weren't available but LBC came back and said they'd still like to go with me (which was flattering).

It was a very brief interview but I found myself in the unusual position of defending Public Health England.

Thirty minutes later I was on BBC Radio Suffolk having quite a heated discussion with the presenter about about cigarette litter.

According to the producer:

A local anti-litter campaigner went out over the weekend and collected 6000 butts in less than two hours on a path beside Ipswich Hospital so we are discussing this as to whether smokers should be more considerate of is the lack of provision of giving smokers no choice on where they dispose of their butts.

On air I acknowledged that smokers have some responsibility not to drop cigarette butts but I added that hospitals, and local councils, have a duty to provide cigarette bins and these are frequently not available because the authorities see it as encouraging people to smoke.

When I pointed out that the smoking ban had exacerbated the problem because it forced more smokers outside, he came back and said words to the effect that we weren't talking about the smoking ban because it was no longer an issue.

I had to point out, quite firmly, that in the context of cigarette litter smoking bans are clearly an issue and in this instance there has to be a direct correlation between the butts on the path beside Ipswich Hospital and the prohibition of smoking on the the hospital site.

The solution, I said, was a designated smoking shelter on site with cigarette bins so smokers can dispose of their butts without leaving a mess.

I'm not sure he was listening.

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