Vaper discrimination? E-cigs banned in major UK train stations

Sad to report, but there’s bad news if you’re a UK commuter who enjoys vaping – or, at least, a vaper who travels a lot on British trains. That’s because the body that oversees railway stations and the track, Network Rail, has outlawed people from using e-cigarettes in major stations.

According to the organisation, it was a ‘unilateral decision’, but one that’s not just caused consternation in both the vaping and anti-smoking communities, but also controversy because it’s far from clear why the decision was actually made. Indeed, when asked by the Birmingham Evening Mail newspaper to explain the decision it took in June, Network Rail claimed it had ‘no further comment to make at this time’.

Hardly a satisfying response and one that – like the decision itself – hasn’t impressed either pro-vaping or anti-smoking groups. To wit, the public health charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) has pointed out that vaping is ‘much less harmful’ than smoking and, for that reason, it doesn’t support a wide-sweeping ban on using e-cigs and related equipment in enclosed public spaces. Meanwhile, the smoking rights group Forest claimed Network Rail’s decision was both ‘an overreaction and a bit petty’. Which is hard to disagree with.

To be clear, while conventional tobacco smoking in the UK is banned in enclosed public spaces, vaping’s not. So Network Rail’s position goes against the grain – not least because vaping and any e-cig activity in smaller, ‘local’ stations isn’t affected by this decision as Network Rail has no autonomy over them; they come under the remit of individual rail operators. That said; if you weren’t already aware, vaping on trains is also banned by the following UK rail operators:

  • Cross Country Trains
  • First Capital Connect
  • Greater Anglia
  • Northern Trains
  • Southern Rail UK
  • Transport for London (TfL)
  • Virgin Trains
  • So just what could the UK rail fraternity have against vaping? Well, a clue may come from the Rail Delivery Group, an official body that represents the interests of both Network Rail and train operators, which said in response to the Birmingham Evening Mail that ‘it can be difficult to know the difference between real and e-cigarettes’, which may not be entirely true for many people and so seems a far from satisfying position to take, but the organisation maintains that this ‘can cause confusion and be unpleasant for passengers’.

    But what do you think? Are Network Rail and their train-related ilk merely vaping killjoys or are they actually on the right track? (surely not!) Let us know by posting a comment below and making a conversation of this hot-button e-cig issue in the UK…!

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