A criminal approach to the electronic cigarette
We at E-Lites read last month of an extraordinary decision by Leeds Criminal Court management to advice their staff to take action against anyone seen smoking an electronic cigarette. The Court acknowledges that electronic cigarettes are lawful and pose no health risk. Yet electronic cigarette users are suspected of causing “undesirable behaviour”
The directive from the court stated “It is highly probable that any electronic cigarettes would cause undesirable reactions in a number of court users. Many would be anxious or annoyed at what appeared to be a flagrant breach of the law, some would be encouraged to produce and light up their own cigarettes in the mistaken belief that smoking was tolerated in that particular building. In all cases, it is likely that protests or queries or undesirable behaviour would be generated.
“For that reason, Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service bans their use.”
Astonishingly, the decision has been roundly condemned by BOTH pro-smoking and anti-smoking groups, according to a report in The Yorkshire Evening Post. A spokeswoman for charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) said: “An Electronic cigarette does not harm other people and they can potentially help smokers who are struggling to quit. It’s short-sighted and unreasonable. The electronic cigarette should not be covered by the smoke-free legislation. This guidance will potentially alienate a lot of people and could encourage some people to start smoking again.”
Simon Clark, director of campaign group Forest – Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco – added: “I would have thought the courts would want to encourage anyone trying to quit. It’s slightly short-sighted.”
E-Lites has every sympathy with hard-pressed public sector workers, and those working in courts probably receive more abuse in a day than the rest of us receive in a month – or year. But banning the use of electronic cigarettes seems to us to only add to the problems court workers face. Firstly, if those attending court ‘on business’ can use the electronic cigarette to relieve the tension and stress, that has to make life easier for court administrators.
Secondly, why should court staff have the additional responsibility of explaining to those attending court that a perfectly legal activity is NOT allowed at Leeds Crown Court? Far simpler to let allow there use in the court building. E-Lites don’t create any smoke, smell or litter so aren’t polluting the atmosphere or creating any extra work for cleaners. The decision seems to be based either on ignorance or prejudice and really has no place in a location where all are to be treated equally.
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