Vape shops open at smoke-free hospitals

Two vaping shops have opened at hospitals in the West Midlands as part of efforts to stop smoking on the sites.

Woman vaping
PA Media

Last week, Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trusts went smoke-free with people including staff facing fines if they are caught lighting up.

Vaping is still allowed and now the retail outlets have opened along with a small number of smoking shelters remaining for vapers.

Public Health England has campaigned for smokers to switch to e-cigarettes, with one independent review concluding they are 95% less harmful than tobacco products.

However, Prof Martin McKee, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, says the UK is out of step with other countries and that there were "enough grounds for serious concerns" about e-cigarettes.

'UK should invest more in smoking prevention'

Today Programme

BBC Radio 4

Vype iSwitch vaping device

As the number of people smoking cigarettes declines, British American Tobacco is focusing increasingly on e-cigarettes, the use of which has doubled in the last five years.

Leaked plans revealed the government hopes to eradicate smoking by 2030 and two hospitals in Birmingham have become the first to sell e-cigarettes on site.

But the US doesn't seem as keen. In June, San Francisco became the first city to ban the sale of vaping devices, and the US Department of Health & Human Services has said warned of a vaping epidemic amongst high school children.

Kingsley Wheaton, chief marketing officer and lead of British American Tobacco's "Transforming Tobacco" campaign, insists that the company is only marketing to adults, and that the UK has the second lowest smoking rates in Europe.

"We're going to have to wait longer for epidemiological evidence, but the Royal College of Physicians, Nice and even Ash agree that vaping is probably about 90% safer for people who smoke, and are unable to quit smoking," he told Today.

"If we forecast forward to 2030, we'll be very close to the government's target of 5%. We welcome talk of regulating cigarettes, but I think it's important to point out the government raises £10bn in tobacco taxes a year, and we urge the UK to invest some of those profits into research and education."

What's the point of San Francisco's e-cigarette ban?

San Francisco becomes the first US city to ban sales of e-cigarettes
San Francisco has become the first US city to ban sales of e-cigarettes until their health effects are clearer. But what's the point, if it's still legal to use e-cigarettes, and possible to buy alcohol, tobacco and even marijuana in the city? Ellen Huet, from Bloomberg in San Francisco, explains what lies behind the city's Board of Supervisors' decision. 

Photo: Woman vaping using an e-cigarette Credit: Getty Images