Merthyr Town stadium named after E-cigarette

An electronic cigarette Electronic cigarettes turn nicotine into a vapour that can be inhaled

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Merthyr Town Football Club is to rename its ground the Cigg-e Stadium after its sponsor, an electronic cigarette firm.

The Southern League club has signed a three-year deal with the company which has just opened a shop in the town.

Club officials said they had been trying to find a sponsor at Penydarren Park since fans took over following liquidation three years ago.

But a doctors' professional body said the marketing, sale and promotion of E-cigarettes should be restricted.

Electronic cigarettes will be licensed as a medicine in the UK from 2016 under new regulations.

Brent Carter, Merthyr Town's business development manager, said: "For the football club itself it brings stability for next three years.

"We have got an academy with 180 kids here and it's great for the community."

In response to the fact that E-cigarettes are not currently licensed, he said: "I've got an open mind."

Merthyr Tydfil Football Club stand Fans took over when the club went into liquidation three years ago

E-cigarettes turn nicotine and other chemicals into a vapour that is inhaled.

The UK currently has few restrictions on their use despite moves in some countries to ban them.

Sales of tobacco-free cigarettes have boomed worldwide since bans on smoking in public places were introduced.

But BMA Cymru Wales, responding to the renaming of Merthyr's ground, said the sale and use of E-cigarettes needed to be regulated urgently "to ensure they are safe, quality assured and effective at helping smokers to cut down or quit".

"We need to restrict their marketing, sale and promotion so that it is only targeted at smokers as a way of cutting down and quitting and does not appeal to non-smokers, in particular children and young people," said senior public affairs officer John Jenkins.

Campaigner Elen de Lacy, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) in Wales, said they were also concerned about marketing to children.

"It is important that E-cigarettes are only promoted to adult smokers and we oppose the marketing of this product to young people through sponsorship of a family friendly stadium," she said.

"Full details of the sponsorship deal are not yet available but it would be inappropriate if they were also branding youth team strips.

"Smokers are increasingly choosing to use E-cigarettes as a clean form of nicotine and there is no evidence to date suggesting that young people are taking up the product, but marketing of this kind directed towards young people is not acceptable."

E-cigarette firm boss Lee Woolls said the company already sponsored a rugby club in Caerau, Cardiff, and wanted to support local communities - and hoped to bring its overseas production to the south Wales valleys.

On the issue of safety, Mr Woolls said medical regulation of E-cigarettes was not necessary and that council trading standards departments could monitor their use.

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