Wednesday 22 August 2018

I do not smoke and I don't want your second hand vaping


I do not smoke and I don't want your second hand vaping

The BBC News recently reported a call to lift the ban on vaping in public places. At present people using e-cigarettes, along with smokers,  are not allowed to smoke in enclosed public places. We have a ban on smoking as smoking is bad for our health, e-cigarettes are licensed as a tobacco product and are included in this ban.
I gave up smoking over twenty five years ago and do not want to start passive vaping.

When I started smoking there were no restrictions where you could smoke (except buses, you could only smoke on the top deck for some bizarre reason).

I have smoked on planes, on trains, in hotel rooms, in pubs, in my house and others. We would go out of an evening and smoke anywhere we fancied. No need for us to brave the wind and rain to have a quick puff.

I was a theatre nurse and when I started we could smoke in all the coffee rooms, this eventually changed to a designated "smokers coffee room". In the late 70s a surgeon would smoke in the operating theatre! It was slightly before my time but he was well known and quite ferocious. He had an ashtray on the side and woe betide the theatre staff if it wasn't there for him to rest his cigarette, another doctor (an anaesthetist) would smoke in the anaesthetic room. Those were the days.

Eventually the risk to health became more apparent and the NHS, which moves very slowly, decided they would ban smoking in the workplace. We already had our lunch break reduced to thirty minutes and there was no way I could get changed out of my scrubs, descend the five floors and outside to smoke and get back in time to change again, eat and get back to work.


I am also a little bit of a rebel, no-one was going to tell me where I could, or couldn't smoke, so I gave up New Years Eve 1990ish (I say "ish" as I can't remember the exact year but remember the day as if it was yesterday).

Giving up wasn't easy. It took many years for me to really be an ex-smoker. I always had sympathy for the smokers, that many years later were given another, more discrete room and then when the smoking ban came in force in Wales in 2007, were finally banished to the great outdoors.

I am now a non smoker. That means I do not smoke. I do not have a quick puff, or a cigar, or only one when I drink.

I do not smoke.

I love that I can go to the pub or a restaurant and not be surrounded by smokers but now begrudge them sitting outside in the sun, in the prime seats puffing away. If I wish to enjoy the fresh air I have to join them.

In all honesty, I would like the smoking ban to be extended, so that people are banned from smoking a set distance away from the entrances of public buildings.

Then around 2003, e-cigarettes happened. Nicotine and other wondrous chemicals are inhaled, and blown out. Like smoking in the 1940s, the health risks are unknown. The experts do not know what effect these will have on children of people who vape. Just today (Sunday as I write), research has shown that children of smokers, who themselves have never smoked, are more at risk of getting lung disease and dying early than children of non-smokers.

I didn't know this thirty years ago when my children were small. What will we discover in thirty years time about vaping and children?

We stopped smoking in the house when our first child was about two or three. The doctor suggested that his chest infections could be made worse (not caused) by our smoking. Since then it has been shown that the residue on clothes is enough to effect children and babies.

In the mid 80s passive smoking was still a grey area, some said it was bad, some disagreed. Cancer had been identified as a risk of smoking, but I was young. It certainly wouldn't happen to me. I had good genes. My parents smoked, my grandmother smoked. They were all fit and well and no-one had lung cancer.

In 1994 Roy Castle died of lung cancer. He was a well known and popular celebrity. He was a non-smoker and claimed passive smoking was the cause of his cancer. His wife supported the growing movement to ban smoking in public places which eventually came into effect in Wales in 2007.

That was seventeen years after I had given up because I thought smoking would be banned in the workplace. How slowly things move when we actually know the risks to ourselves and others.

Now MPs want to lift the ban on vaping in public places. We still do not know the long term risks to non vapers.

I do not want to breathe their chemicals, 
I do not want my grandsons to breathe their chemicals. 

We are all non smokers, they have very little exposure to second hand smoke and I'd like to keep it that way.

The MPs argument is that it's a good tool to give up smoking and less dangerous than cigarettes. Fine, give them free as a cessation aid, but do not expose me to them. I am a non smoker, I do not want to breath their exhaled chemicals.

Lifting the ban gives the wrong message to people, especially to young non smokers. If the government lets you use them anywhere they must be OK.

No-one knows the risks yet, experts are divided. So while they may be a benefit to smokers, they should be classed as a risk to non-smokers until proven otherwise.

I do not smoke and I don't want your second hand vaping.

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