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It certainly seems like it, if the recent reaction by security staff at the Etihad Stadium is anything to go by.
An unnamed Manchester City fan was having a drink with some friends in the concourse, happily vaping away, when security descended upon him. He was taken into a room where he was first asked what his vaping device was and then informed that they were banned in the stadium. That, in and of itself, is fair enough; while under the strictest letter of the law it is legal to use vaping devices anywhere it’s obviously up to the individual or company that owns the premises to decide whether they will allow people to do so.
What is less fair is the subsequent confiscation of the supporter’s season ticket, and his being escorted from the stadium. Such an over-reaction is entirely uncalled-for, as most vapers would happily say ‘Oh sorry, I wasn’t sure’, put their e-cig in their pocket and not continue to use it.
Legal To Use Anywhere
The above statement is technically true since the Health Act 2006, which brought in the ban on smoking in public places, defines smoking like this:
(a)“smoking” refers to smoking tobacco or anything which contains tobacco, or smoking any other substance, and
(b)smoking includes being in possession of lit tobacco or of anything lit which contains tobacco, or being in possession of any other lit substance in a form in which it could be smoked.
Since e-cigarettes and other vapour-producing devices don’t contain any tobacco or indeed anything lit, they are not subject to this provision.
However, as stated, it’s entirely in the hands of the proprietor of wherever you happen to be when you want a quick nicotine hit.
The argument goes that seeing someone using a device that closely resembles a cigarette may confuse smokers, who then think they are free to light up. In a large area that is very crowded, like a stadium, I can see how this might hold water, but somewhere like a pub it simply doesn’t apply.
There are a great many vaping devices that look absolutely nothing like analogue cigarettes, some that more closely resemble lava-lamps in fact, but even the ones that do are easy enough to distinguish. Aside from the fact that the vaper will have taken the device from a pocket, not produced or used any sort of lighter, taken a few drags and then replaced it in their pocket, the lack of smell would be an obvious giveaway, as would the often green or blue light on the end of the device.
Frankly, in all but the most crowded of areas or frantic of crowds, the idea that a smoker might become confused enough to think the law no longer applies is insulting to smokers. I know I’d be insulted if someone told me I wasn’t clever enough to tell the difference between a lit tube of paper and tobacco leaves, and a battery-powered vapour-producing device.
Thankfully, after a series of letters to Peter Fletcher, the club’s head of security, the fan was able to get his season ticket back. As well as that, the Manchester Evening News’ report on the fan’s plight was spotted by Blues supporter and Withington MP John Leech. He wrote a strongly-worded letter to Mr Fletcher urging him to have a rethink. He says he is disappointed that the club continue to forbid their use but added that he was happy that the fan had been given his season card back.
Mr Leech said: “I think City are wrong to keep the ban, but am glad they have listened to representations by me and others and reinstated his season ticket.”
This is the kind of over-reaction that can only be avoided by education. The more people who know about electronic cigarettes and the more they know about what the devices are and how they work, the fewer innocent people will be handcuffed and escorted from stadiums.