A year ago Andrew Allison wrote about councils banning vaping on their premises and the perverse result that this makes it harder for their staff and residents to give up smoking.

A report for the Freedom Association indicates that this problem persists. Astonishingly 126 councils (32 per cent of those who responded) require vapers to use designated smoking areas in all or some circumstances.. This is actually an increase from 112 councils in 2016.

Various councils said they would review the matter – as they said a year ago. But what are they waiting for? Vaping is not smoking and it should not be treated as if it is.

Nor is this an obscure fringe issue. There are 2.9 million vapers in the UK – around 97 per cent of users are current or former smokers. The Royal College of Physicians has stated that vaping is at least 95 per cent safer than smoking combustible tobacco. Public Health England has urged that vaping be encouraged.

Mark Pawsey MP, the Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for E-Cigarettes, says the new technology should be encouraged. He notes that “the Government made the positive decision to feature them in this year’s Stoptober campaign so the tide is certainly turning” and adds:

“I would hope that councils would look again at their policies and ensure that vapers are not treated in the same way as smokers thus jeopardising their chances of giving up tobacco for good.”

Some EU directives – introduced due to the lobbying of various vested interests – have sought to scupper promotion of e-cigarettes. For instance the pharmaceutical lobby wish to thwart competition to Nicotine Replacement Therapy. Let’s hope that among other things Brexit will mean is that it is easier to give up smoking.

A few councils have shown signs of at least contemplating liberalising their policy in response to the evidence. The following are undertaking a review:

Ashford, Bolsover, Cheshire East, Copeland, Cornwall, Dover, Durham County Council, Halton, Hertfordshire, High Peak, Inverclyde, Kent, Barking & Dagenham, Bexley, Waltham Forest, Norfolk, North East Derbyshire, Oxfordshire, Renfrewshire, Rochdale, Scarborough, Sefton, Sheffield, Shropshire, Solihull, Southampton, Staffordshire Moorlands, Stockton-on-Tees and Tendring.

That still means that most councils are not even considering a change. Indeed several have conducted a review and decided to retain the ban – although vaping does not harm bystanders nor does it prove a “gateway” to smoking. Often the same councils that prohibit e-cigarettes will be spending huge sums on ineffective, nannying, anti smoking campaigning. A pretty absurd situation – and an abject failure to honour their duty to improve public health.