In early March 2016, news broke that a beach in Pembrokeshire, Wales was to ban the use of e-cigarettes. The area’s county council put the regulation (which also applies to smoking) in place on the idyllic Little Haven location due to fears about the ‘normalisation’ of smoking and concerns that usage of e-cigarettes could inspire children to take up traditional cigarettes.
However, there are complexities about the ruling that require some explanation. So what’s it all about?
What is the ruling?
Smoking and the use of e-cigarettes is discouraged on the beach of Little Haven. That word ‘discouraged’ is very important, because it’s not actually prohibited by law, it’s just suggested that visitors and residents shouldn’t smoke or vape.
What does that mean?
The ban is voluntary and self-policing. Signs have been put up around the beach which read: “Thanks for keeping our beach smoke-free”. Those who do not abide by the rule will not be fined, penalised or punished.
Why have such a strange rule?
There’s been a drive to ban smoking and vaping on beaches before, but as the Crown Estate is in charge of the British seabed, no council could enforce it by law. Making the ban voluntary – asking people not to smoke or vape, rather than telling them they can’t and punishing them if they do – allows them to navigate this legal complexity.
Is the ban permanent?
No. The scheme will be trialled for a year and then reviewed at the end of this period. It’s possible that it won’t be extended at the end of the trial, and that visitors will be able to smoke and vape on Little Haven again.
What has been said about the rule?
Councillor Huw George said: “We take public health very seriously. We want to do as much as we can to protect our children from smoking and to promote a health and wellbeing environment for all.”
Clarifying the exact nature of the ban, he added: “Appropriate signage will be on display informing beach users of the ban. Anyone breaching it may be approached and politely requested not to smoke. It is similar to the ban on smoking in play areas across Wales.”
While this is the first instance on a beach, such voluntary schemes have been used previously in Bristol. Millennium Square and Anchor Square are often frequented by families, and in 2015 the council erected signs requesting that visitors “keep Bristol smoke-free, healthy and clean”.
Meanwhile, there are firmer rules that are governed by law outlining where vaping is and isn’t allowed, including on trains, in restaurants, and at sports stadiums. These areas will normally be clearly sign-posted, but if you’re unsure, ask a member of staff at the location.
So, to reiterate, can I vape at Little Haven beach?
Vaping is discouraged at Little Haven, meaning you can vape without fear of being penalised, but if you do you could be asked to stop.
Source: Wikipedia (Creative Commons)