On 15 August I published a Freedom of Information request I sent to the British Transport Police regarding the number of people interviewed under caution for vaping on trains and in railway stations. We received a reply this week.
I understand why the request was refused, however, the additional information provided shows that vaping on trains and in railway stations is not a criminal offence. You may be breaking a condition of carriage, but vaping in an enclosed space is a perfectly legal activity which is not covered by railway byelaws.
If you dig your heels into the ground after a fellow passenger has complained, you could be accused of breaking Byelaw 6(8) which states that "no person shall molest or wilfully interfere with the comfort or convenience of any person on the railway." This is what British Transport Police told me:
"The use of an e-cigarette would not normally be covered by Byelaw 6(8) unless we can evidence that the interference is wilful. For example, where after a complaint from another passenger, the individual continues to use the e-cigarette. We would need to ensure we are able to obtain sufficient evidence to support the prosecution."
The answer to this issue is simple: have clearly marked areas where vaping is permitted. There could be a vaping carriage on a train. There could be vaping areas in enclosed parts of railways stations, and of course, in unenclosed areas of railway stations there shouldn't be a ban at all.
It is always easier to ban things, but just because it's easier doesn't make it right. This country has a proud history of tolerance. If you don't want to be around vapers, then you don't have to be. If you would like to discreetly vape in a train, you should be given the opportunity. And for those who worry about cloud chasing, the following sign can be used:
This is from the Government's Tobacco Control Plan:
"E-cigarette use is not covered by smokefree legislation and should not routinely be included in the requirements of an organisation’s smokefree policy. In addition there has been the development and very recent introduction of novel tobacco products that claim to reduce the harm of smoking. We welcome innovation that will reduce the harms caused by smoking and will evaluate whether products such as novel tobacco products have a role to play in reducing the risk of harm to smokers"
It is now time for Rail Operating Companies and Network Rail to take on-board this advice and allow vaping in certain areas of railway stations and in train carriages. An outright ban is not acceptable.