Kent Messenger Maidstone
Do e-cigarettes send out confusing smoke signals?
firstname.lastname@example.org EXHALING on an electronic ‘ciggie’ is leaving a cloud of uncertainty over the heads of Maidstone’s restaurant owners and pub landlords.
The e-cigarette is making big in-roads into Britain, causing concern and confusion.
In England there is a total tobacco smoking ban in enclosed public locations and places of work, but electronic cigarettes have so far succeeded in running under the radar of the law.
Nicotine-filled ‘vaporisers’ contain no carbon monoxide and are legal indoors. The battery-powered devices heat a liquid nicotine solution and create a vapour that users inhale.
The Department of Health is worried, saying: “At the moment, we don’t know enough about whether they are safe, effective, or made to consistent quality standards.
“So the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency is carrying out research – looking in particular at how different levels of nicotine affect the body.
“We’ll use this to help us decide whether we need to take any action on e-cigarettes.”
Meanwhile, pubs, restaurants and social clubs are taking a deep breath over what to do.
Ciaran O’Quigley, the owner of Maidstone restaurant and nightclub Mu Mu, said: “We had only one instance, which was settled amicably.
“But it’s a baffling situation, and we have not yet made up our minds whether we are going to be for or against banning.”
David Savory, landlord of the Style and Winch on Union Street, said: “If some people eating Sunday lunch here were to object, then I’d ask such a smoker to stop, and if he or she didn’t I’d ask them to leave.
“But if nobody objected, I’d let the electronic smoker continue.”
At The Muggleton Inn, in Maidstone High Street, Eddie Gershon, a spokesman for its owners JD Wetherspoon, said: “We have a total ban on all kind of smoking.
“It’s because we don’t want to be in a situation where our staff have to distinguish between liquid smoke and a normal cigarette.”
It is a view shared by Maidstone United Football Club. Spokesman Ian Tucker said: “We don’t allow smoking of any kind, and we include e-cigarettes, because it sends out confusing signals to other smokers.”
nicotine may vary
One e-cigarette company, E-Lite, was unable to answer questions about its products’ safety when quizzed by the KM.
“We are not going to be able to provide you with responses to your questions,” said their PR people.
However, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency warned that the amount of nicotine per product might not be the same from batch to batch.
A spokesman said: “The release of nicotine from the same electronic cigarette can vary over time, and the amount of nicotine per product might not be the same from batch to batch.
“With regards to safety, toxic elements may be included, and unexpectedly high doses of nicotine could produce adverse effects, particularly in vulnerable patient groups such as those with cardiovascular disease.”
The spokesman added: “There remain clear gaps in knowledge regarding these products.”