A PROPOSED ban on e-cigarettes in public places, such as in pubs and in taxis, is heavy handed and not based on evidence, opposition AMs claimed today.

They said banning them in public could make it harder for people to give up smoking, and pointed to advice from charities that a ban was unnecessary.

Welsh Government ministers have proposed the new controls in the Public Health (Wales) bill, due to be discussed at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay later today.

The e-cigarette proposal is just one part of a raft of measures aimed at making the country healthier, but some AMs said the whole bill could be at risk if the e-cigarette measures remain.

Tory AM for South Wales East William Graham said: “Banning vaping is not evidence based. It is useful when quitting smoking tobacco and when banned in Spain, smoking increased. Sadly the bill, which contains good parts, may be lost.”

The bill also includes proposals to tighten laws on tattoo and piercing shops, reshape pharmacy services and improve access to public toilets and has been shaped by two public consultations.

Labour AM for Newport East John Griffiths defended the bill, saying: “It puts e-cigarettes on the same footing as ordinary tobacco products. I don’t see it’s that much of a problem for users of e-cigarettes. They can use them, for example, without using them in public.”

Smoking ordinary cigarettes in Welsh public places has been banned for eight years, and Mr Griffiths said he didn’t want the good work to be undone.

“It’s not necessarily based on whether e-cigarettes are harmful or not but whether it normalises smoking cigarettes,” he said. “We have made progress in reducing smoking in Wales. I wouldn’t want anything to undermine that.”

But Tory AM for South Wales East Mohammad Asghar said: “We don’t know how harmful or how good for you e-cigarettes are so I won’t support government on this because we don’t have enough evidence. The Welsh Government is taking a hard stick on banning them and ignoring advice from charities. I’m happy for cigarettes to be banned in public and protecting children but there’s an element of personal choice and freedom.”

AMs opposed to the ban pointed to arguments from charities like Cancer Research UK and Tenovus that a ban isn’t necessary.

But countering this, First Minister Carwyn Jones said the World Health Organisation backed Welsh Labour's plans to treat e-cigarettes in the same way as cigarettes.

Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Kirsty Williams said: “The evidence for this decision is wafer thin. Banning things just for the sake of it isn’t a position any Government should take.”