SMOKERS in Wales should be encouraged to instead use e-cigarettes, South Wales East AM Mohammad Asghar has said.

Speaking in the Assembly last week the Conservative AM referred to new guidance by the British Medical Association stating “there are clear potential benefits to (e-cigarette) use in reducing the substantial harms associated with smoking, and a growing consensus that they are significantly less harmful than tobacco use”.

Addressing health secretary Vaughan Gething, he said: “What action are you going to take to promote the use of e-cigarettes in Wales as an alternative to tobacco smoking?”

Mr Gething replied: “You said that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful than tobacco.

“That does not mean that they're not, themselves, harmful – it's about the balance in harm.

“And it's also about a recognition that we don't always understand what goes into an e-cigarette.”

He added: “The government has no intention of promoting e-cigarettes.

“There are choices for people to make themselves, as citizens of the country.”

The Assembly previously discussed a proposal to ban the use of e-cigarettes in public places such as playgrounds and restaurants, but the idea was voted down shortly before the 2016 election.