A Letter to the Chairman of the Bolton Health Committee

I said yesterday that the Chairman of the Health Committee just happens to be my local councillor. Here is my proposed letter to him about the e-cigarette ban:

Dear Mr xxx

You are the elected councillor for this ward. I believe that you are also the Chairperson of the Bolton Metro Health Committee (or whatever it is called).

I am writing to you in connection with the report in the Bolton News about the ban on the use of e-cigarettes in Bolton Metro enclosed places. I have no doubt that you are familiar with the ban and with the report.

Since you are Chairperson on the Health Committee, I assume that you were very much involved with bringing this ban about, even though you might not personally be in favour of it. I say that because there is no quote in the Bolton News from you or any person on that committee. Only a quote from ‘a spokesperson’ was printed. As my personal representative on the Council (for whom I voted, by the way), I would be grateful to know whether or not you were personally in favour of the ban on e-cigarettes in Bolton Metro enclosed places. I would be grateful if you would reply and tell me the answer to that question.

If you were in favour of the ban on e-cigarettes, both by visitors and employees, I would be grateful if you would advise me of the legal and logical reasons for that ban.

As you know, the law of the land requires only that smoking of tobacco products be banned. There is no requirement for the use of personal inhaling devices to be banned. Numerous people use personal inhaling devices, mostly for the relief of asthma symptoms, but not exclusively. Is it true that this e-cigarette ban also applies to any other personal inhaling device? You see, the word ‘e-cigarette’ is simply a term which has no legal definition that I know of. It is a ‘made-up’ word which vaguely refers to personal inhaling devices which are used to inhale propylene glycol mixed with certain flavours which also might contain a small amount of the substance, nicotine, or might not.

The fact that no one from the health committee chose to add a quote to the article is odd. It is almost always the case that a member of the committee will say why an action has been taken, normally the Chairman, which would be yourself. It is odd that the only quote was from a ‘spokesperson’, and not an identified individual.

Could it be that there was, in fact, no rational reason for the ban? That it was and is illogical?

The article said:

A council spokesman said they have a no-smoking policy across all council buildings, which extends to e-cigarettes.

He added: “We currently treat e-cigarettes the same as normal cigarettes and will continue to do so until there is proven and empirical evidence of the safety of these devices.”

Do you see the defect in that statement? There is no such thing, in law, as an e-cigarette. The device is ‘a personal inhaler’. It is not a tobacco product and does not use tobacco. Nothing is burned and there is no smoke. In effect, what you and your committee have done is create a completely new ban which has nothing to do with tobacco. You have banned personal inhalers. How do you justify that? May I point out once more that these personal inhalers need not contain nicotine – not that it matters, since nicotine is not a banned drug.

Nor, to my knowledge, is there any legal reason that people should not exhale water vapour. In fact, we both inhale and exhale water vapour with every breath we take. Further, whenever we exhale, we exhale the ‘flavours’ of any flavoured substance that we have recently consumed.

Further, the second half of the statement from your spokesperson (…and will continue to do so until there is proven and empirical evidence of the safety of these devices.”) is just nonsense. No such absolute is possible for any device. What is already clear is that these personal inhaling devices are in great popular use, in their millions, and that no safety problems have been observed, apart from very rare and isolated events. In any case, one might ask how the Bolton Council could ever be competent to assess such evidence. Also, it is for the individual to decide upon the safety of the personal inhalers, and not the local authority, provided that no known danger exists for the general public. Any other interpretation is nonsense.

I shall only briefly touch upon the Bolton Hospital situation.

The quotes below are similarly misguided (do these people think that the people of Bolton are imbeciles?):

Heather Edwards, spokesman for the Royal Bolton, confirmed it had the same policy on the guidance of public health experts.

A public health spokesman said: “While it is likely that e-cigarettes are considerably less damaging to health than smoking tobacco, they cannot currently be recommended as part of the clinical management for smoking cessation.

A ‘straw man’ argument if ever there was one! What has “….part of the clinical management for smoking cessation” got to do with the free choice of adults to use personal inhalers?

I would be grateful if you would respond because I see no affirmation that this policy has been passed by the Council. It is implied, but not stated. The statement from Heather Edwards says no more than that ‘there is a policy’.

I have many contacts who are interested in your response to these concerns, and I would be grateful for your response. Briefly, the queries are:

  1. Who proposed that personal inhalers should be banned?
  2. Are such bans legal?
  3. Has the full council approved the ban on personal inhalers?
  4. Are the justifications for the bans logical?
  5. In what way will such a ban help smokers to reduce their desire to smoke?
  6. In what way will employees of the authority be helped to cut down on tobacco use by the ban?
  7. How is the ban to be enforced?

——

I would be grateful for any comments before I actually complete the letter.

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7 Responses to “A Letter to the Chairman of the Bolton Health Committee”

  1. smokingscot Says:

    Much too long Junican. You know the deal. If you can’t say it on one A4 page then don’t bother saying it at all.

    Stick to the essentials. Quit with the quotes. Assume he knows the whole story and get to the point PDQ.

    Fine to ramble and digress on a blog post, but imagine if you received this while working in the bank… bin.

  2. west2 Says:

    I believe the law uses such vagaries as “or any substance capable of being smoked”. This captures herbal cigarettes.

    In the letter, try just asking the questions. Maybe use para 1 & 2 of the letter, then skip to “I would be grateful….” and add a couple that summarize what you have said in the other paragraphs e.g.

    “What has the clinical management of smoking cessation” got to do with the free choice of adults to use personal inhalers?

    Why did a spokesperson claim the need for “proven and empirical evidence of the safety of these devices” when most/if not all e-cig devices are CE marked, this being evidence they already conform to legislation on safety, health and environmental protection, within the European market?

    Are devices that contain zero nicotine included?

    Qs 5-7 seems to buy into the idea of a ban if it helps people thus sort of presupposing it has some merit. It might be an idea to ask directly “What is the purpose of the ban and what are its objectives?

    just some thoughts…..

  3. J Brown Says:

    How about this:

    Dear Sir:
    I am writing to you in response to the proposed ban on the use of e-cigarettes in Bolton metro enclosed areas, as reported in the Bolton News. I presume that, as elected councillor for this ward, you are familiar with this proposal.

    Currently, the term ‘e-cigarette’ has not been defined by law, but thus far vaguely refers to personal inhaling devices which may or may not contain nicotine. As current regulations do not encompass any regulation about the use of personal inhalers in any venue, nor has such a policy been passed by the Council, I would request a response to the following concerns:

    1. Who proposed that personal inhalers should be banned?
    2. Are such bans legal?
    3. Has the full council approved the ban on personal inhalers?
    4. Are the justifications for the bans logical?
    5. In what way will such a ban help smokers to reduce their desire to smoke?
    6. In what way will employees of the authority be helped to cut down on tobacco use by the ban?
    7. How is the ban to be enforced?

    At the end, you may wish to advise that this letter and his response will be posted on an internet site, as such followers of the site are interested in his response.

  4. A Letter to the Chairman of the Bolton Health C... Says:

    […] I said yesterday that the Chairman of the Health Committee just happens to be my local councillor. Here is my proposed letter to him about the e-cigarette ban: Dear Mr xxxYou are the elected councillor for this ward. I believe that you are also the Chairperson of the Bolton Metro Health Committee (or whatever it is called).I am writing to you in connection with the report in the Bolton News about the ban on the use of e-cigarettes in Bolton Metro enclosed places. I have no doubt that you are familiar with the ban and with the report.  […]

  5. junican Says:

    Thanks for the suggestions – much appreciated.

    One of the things to bear in mind is that I do not expect anything to happen at all as a result of this letter. I do not even expect a reply. My intention is merely to make it plain that the proposed ban is nonsense and probably damaging. Thus, it does not matter how long the letter is. However, I have shortened it somewhat by removing some phrases that were not important and deleted two of the questions at the end. (It does not matter who proposed the ban, and it does not matter whether smokers in general cut down on tobacco – employees are the main people). I have also added a sentence at the end.
    I have in mind also to write to the Chairman of the Council, the CEO and the Union, and possibly Pickles. I think that the ban is bullying.

    See tonight’s post.

  6. nannyknowsbest Says:

    Freedom of information requests will have more chance of being read and replied to.

    • junican Says:

      Hello, nanny! Where you bin? Good to hear from you.
      If it was a question of some importance as to who introduced the ban and who voted for it, a FOI would be useful to find out the answer to that question, but that is not really the important question. That is why I dropped the “who said so?” from the letter. There are no actual questions, really. There are statements. “Ecigs help people to refrain from smoking. Why are they being banned?” What is interesting is the statement which is the answer to that question. What we have is the FAILURE to answer that question before the STATEMENT of the ban. There should be a STATEMENT of the harm of ecigs before the ban. Nothing else will do.

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