Monday 19 August 2013

This Is An Evidence-Free Zone

Time for a follow up to last month's article on train operating company policies for e-cigs.

You may remember that I found vaping to be permitted on the Eurostar when travelling to Brussels to protest the Tobacco Products Directive on July 10th. Subsequent enquiries discovered that you can also vape on East Coast trains and on Network Rail property.

Now, via the Devil, we know the South West Trains policy too.
Dear Devil

Thank you for your email. 
Currently customers are permitted to use these devises (sic), as we require greater understanding on how we could practically enforce any ban if we decided to introduce one. Should this position change, appropriate information will be produced. 
I do hope this information is of benefit to you.
Well, it's helpful to know that they are permitted, but the explanation is quite bizarre! Is it just me, or are they saying that e-cigs are allowed purely due to the fact that they haven't worked out how to ban them yet?

No mention of any evidence they may have come across which necessitates a possible ban, only a concern that if they do decide on a ban they might have some trouble enforcing it.

Give me strength!

Still, it's another train company we should congratulate for allowing their use at the present time, I suppose. All of which makes C2C trains look even more stupid than they did last month.

They seem to have little knowledge about the rest of their own industry, and certainly know bugger all about e-cigs.

Vape away, I say. If I can sneak a crafty puff in a doctor's surgery without being noticed, I'm sure Driver Dan and the Fat Controller have no chance.

If you've found out (or are intending to try, nudge nudge) how your local train company treats e-cigs, do please let me know. 


Junican said...

I do not know quite how to put this. One is pissed. Vapers must also surely become pissed from time to time.
Therefore Vapers must be just as bad an example as jolly smokers. The only problem, which is a shame, is that I have seen no - not a single one - vaping outside anywhere at all.

Odd, don't you think?

prog said...

The rail industry is by default essentially anti smoker. Hence the blanket public smoking bans on outdoor stations for no other reason than support of the denormalisation agenda. Ultimately, anything that looks like smoking will potentially face the same sanctions. That said, the ban is being ignored on unmanned rural platforms, as evidenced by dog ends. But, as you say, it is much easier to grab a crafty vape than a smoke.

The reason why they see fit to ban outdoor smoking has never really been addressed. Can't be health related (no junk to justify it) as, indeed, you yourself have reminded people on many occasions.

@Junican. I have seen one person vaping outside a pub, probably frightened to do so inside. Such is the world we live in today.

BrianB said...

You can add Virgin and Cross-Country trains to your list of baddies. I came across a list of all UK ToCs and their positions on ecigs on some vapers' forum, but I was on a train at the time (having been 'advised' by the guard not to use my ecig), so I haven't kept the URL.

What these idiots don't seem to understand is that they are not enttled to ban something just because they don't (personally) like it They are all providing a service on behalf of the State (please don't let anyone believe that the Railways aren't still controlled by the State - they are), and as such, they are bound by the rules that the State lays down . These rules take the form of Railway Byelaws.

Whilst the laws of the state take supremacy over them, railway byelaws are in place to deal with situations that are specific (and internal) to the railways, and which are enforced by the Railway Police. In other words, the railway companies cannot allow smoking on trains anymore (state legislation), but they were able to exploit some sloppy wording in Section 3 of the railway byelaws in order to ban smoking on open platforms. Section 3 is the byelaw that was introduced back in the 1950s (or earlier) to allow British Railways to introduce non-smoking compartments on trains - I kid you not. My, how far we have moved in such a short time!

I have always taken the view that the ban on open-platform smoking is an abuse of byelaw 3, and wouldn't stand up to legal challenge, as it is totally against the spirit of the intent and purpose of that byelaw. Sadly, not being a lawyer, and not having enough money, I can't mount such a challenge, but I damn well would if I had the cash!

Now, as far as ecigs are concerned, clealry the State hasn't banned them in public places (hence nor, by inclusion in the same legislation, on public transport), therefore if a ToC wishes to ban ecig usage, they either have to use an existing byelaw or introduce a new one. Legislation was introduced in 2005 (I think) to enable ToCs to introduce new byelaws, but it isn't as simple as just stating a rule - they need the approval of (and a certificate from) the Department for Transport. I doubt very much that any of these ToCs have bothered to do this - especially as the use of law would need to be justified (on what grounds?)

They clearly can't use the smoking byelaw (no. 3) since, if ecigs qualified under 'smoking', then they would be automatically banned by State legislation. That just leaves the byelaw on unacceptable behaviour (byelaw 6), but this is pretty specific about which behaviours are 'unacceptable', so I can't see how it could be used to describe ecig usage.

All in all, I think the ToCs are actibg outsde their powers in 'banning' ecig usage. I am planning to write to Cross-Country's CEO to ask whcih byelaw thay use for banning ecigs - others may wish to ask similarly awkward questions of other ToCS. Maybe then there might be a case for a legal challenge - or at least the threat of one.

You can read the railway byelaws at

This should be fought. At what point do we stiop meekly accepting that we can be told not do do something just because 'the man' says so? When are we going to stop being so bloody servile?

nealasher said...

As well as Wetherspoons you can add Flaming Grill pubs to the knee-jerk ban it list. I walked in one called the Royal George in Ipswich and was told no, not allowed, because the vapour looks like smoke. Yet I'm finding that independent pubs are generally fine with it - probably because their policy isn't decided by distant committee.

Sam Duncan said...

Heh. This old saw needs some revision: “In Germany, everything is forbidden that is not expressly permitted. In Britain, everything is permitted that is not expressly forbidden... yet.”

nealasher said...

South-east c2c:

nealasher said...

Of course if they include e-cigs on a no smoking sign it is completely irrelevant, since you don't actually 'smoke' an e-cig...