Councillors raised concern about children vaping and warned against adults encouraging the habit.

Under UK law it is illegal to sell electronic cigarettes or e-liquids to someone under the age of 18 and for adults to buy e-cigarettes for someone under 18.

Despite this, councillors on Sheffield Council’s licensing committee said they were aware and concerned about a ‘significant’ number of children they witnessed vaping.

In a meeting, councillor Mick Rooney said: “I am aware of a significant number of children taking up vaping because they think it’s okay to do that because it’s safe. They don’t realise it’s an uncharted area and they are actually addicting themselves. As someone who smoked for 50 years and only gave up this March, I know how difficult it is to get off cigarettes.”

Coun Vickie Priestley agreed and said: “I see school children walking up the road vaping all the time because they think it’s safe. As somebody who has had lung cancer and a third of a lung removed, I absolutely object to it – wholeheartedly. It should be banned altogether in public places.”

Coun Andy Bainbridge added: “I am not happy with vaping, as was pointed out by Vickie, young children are taking this up supposedly as another option to smoking but there are even cases of parents buying these things for their children in the hope they won’t smoke when it’s the opposite.

“On a personal level, I am asthmatic and when anybody walks past me vaping I cough more than I do when somebody is smoking so I strongly object to people doing it in an enclosed space and me having to breathe it in.”

The discussion was prompted when officers amended their draft statement of licensing policy to say vaping ‘isn’t unlawful, just treated in the same way as smoking’.

Most of the committee agreed with this, except Coun Joe Otten who said: “It’s my view that vaping should generally be allowed on the premises and therefore vapers don’t have to stand outside in the shelter and breathe in second-hand smoke to the detriment of their health and causing noise to the detriment of neighbours.”

Should vaping be treated the same as smoking?

Councillors debated whether vaping should be treated the same as smoking when it comes to licensing premises in Sheffield.

Unlike smoking, rules on vaping vary between venues. While smoking is banned indoors everywhere, e cigarettes are allowed in some pubs, cafes and restaurants.

The discussion was prompted when officers amended their draft statement of licensing policy to say vaping ‘isn’t unlawful, just treated in the same way as smoking’.

But Coun Otten said this was unfair. He said: “It’s my view that vaping should generally be allowed on the premises and therefore vapers don’t have to stand outside in the shelter and breathe in second-hand smoke to the detriment of their health and causing noise to the detriment of neighbours.”

Other committee members disagreed.

Coun Mick Rooney said: “You can’t smoke on a bus and you can’t vape on a bus, similarly on a train, so I would not support an option where we are at odds with large sections of society.

“One of the reasons I’m against allowing vaping in an enclosed area is because it’s largely unstudied. Nobody really knows what the long term effects of vaping are, clearly it’s not as dangerous as smoking because a lot of the toxic byproducts of smoking aren’t there. But what vaping does is actually prolong an addiction. 

“If anyone thinks vaping is harmless, it isn’t. It doesn’t solve the problem of addiction.”

Coun Cliff Woodcraft added: “Life is really quite complicated for many people these days with different rules applying to different situations and I think to have an alignment with bans on public transport it should be banned elsewhere. It just gets too complicated to follow the rules.”

NHS England state on their website: “Research into [vaping] is ongoing, but it seems e-cigs release negligible amounts of nicotine into the atmosphere and the limited evidence available suggests any risk from passive vaping to bystanders is small relative to tobacco cigarettes.

“In England, the Government has no plans to ban vaping indoors (although some employers have banned them in the workplace) but some health professionals recommend avoiding using them around pregnant women, babies and children.”

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