Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Vaping banned on train stations and platforms in Norway

Jernbaneverket (the Norwegian government's agency for railway services) released a press release yesterday saying that from September 1st smoking will be prohibited on all Norwegian train stations and platforms. 
"The prohibition applies to all forms of smoking, including electronic cigarettes."
As you can see they're obviously not aware that vaping is not smoking, including it in the ban as just another form of smoking. Disappointing...


I wrote an email to Jernbaneverket's head of marketing, Cecilie Pindsle, asking her on what was the reasoning behind including e-cigarettes in the ban. I've translated her answer below:
"The reason that we are including e-cigarettes in the prohibition is that as of today it is illegal to produce, import and sell e-cigarettes in Norway, and we do not know if the emission of vapor from e-cigarettes containing nicotine will lead to any health hazards. The authorities (the Directorate of Health) is now investigating e-cigarettes further, and as long as we have an unresolved status we choose as owners of the stations to include them in the prohibition - something we have the opportunity to do by virtue of general jurisdiction. In this way we avoid unnecessary confusion in the public regarding smoking on stations."
Again, a bit disappointing that they haven't really done any research on this matter. It is not illegal to produce, import or sell the equipment in Norway, only if it contains nicotine. And they've not looked into the hazards of second hand vaping either. However I understand that being a government organization they have to rely on the information they get from the Directorate of Health on the latter issue, so the Directorate of Health is to blame for that one. But the confusion argument is just lame in my opinion. Yes, some cig-alikes can be mistaken for cigarettes if you're not close to the user, but this confusion could easily be avoided when they put up signs or announce the prohibition on their speaker systems like they plan to do anyway. In addition to this the awareness of e-cigarettes in Norway is sky rocketing at the moment so I don't think anyone really would do this mistake... unless they deliberately want to of course.

I've written back to Cecilie Pindsle, pointing out the errors in their press release and reasoning behind the ban and urging them to reconsider. I haven't heard back from her yet and I don't have high hopes that I will either, but you never know. I'll certainly inform you if I do.

This might not seem like to big a deal for a lot of people, but it really is. This is a government agency banning vaping in a public space that they "own". Outside! I can live with bars and restaurants banning vaping, as these are not public spaces, but this is something totally different. I haven't heard of any bars or restaurants that bans vaping outside either for that matter. This is one step towards banning smoking in all public spaces, something I think will happen eventually. The big problem here is that vaping is viewed as a form of smoking and hence included in the ban, by a government organization. And the one's responsible for this is the Directorate of Health, that are not doing their job to be honest. They keep saying they do not know enough about, but it is their f...ing job to know enough.

On Facebook Norwegian vapers are speaking up against the ban on Jernbaneverkets page (https://www.facebook.com/jernbaneverket/posts/838022486208600) and I encourage everyone who haven't done so yet to post a comment there as well. But please be nice and informative when you do, don't go destroying the vapers reputation.

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