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RCN Wales disappointed after 'political games' scupper public health bill

Legal move to limit e-cigarette use and body piercings for young people shelved amid Cardiff assembly row 

The head of RCN Wales has told politicians not to play games with the health of the nation after assembly members voted against a move to limit use of e-cigarettes.

The bill, which would have outlawed e-cigarettes in some public places including hospital grounds and schools, had looked likely to be passed on March 16 before a row between Labour and Plaid Cymru.

Plaid had allowed a free vote of its assembly members on the issue, despite a majority being against any ban on e-cigarettes, a party spokesperson said.

Two of the party's assembly members had planned to back the Labour bill, which included other public health measures such as banning intimate piercings of children under 16, requiring tattooists to be licensed and reform of pharmacy services.

However, on March 16 Labour assembly member Leighton Andrews offended Plaid. Speaking during an assembly debate he referred

The head of RCN Wales has told politicians not to ‘play games with the health of the nation’ after assembly members voted against a move to limit use of e-cigarettes.

The bill, which would have outlawed e-cigarettes in some public places including hospital grounds and schools, had looked likely to be passed on March 16 – before a row between Labour and Plaid Cymru.

Plaid had allowed a free vote of its assembly members on the issue, despite a majority being against any ban on e-cigarettes, a party spokesperson said.

Two of the party's assembly members had planned to back the Labour bill, which included other public health measures such as banning intimate piercings of children under 16, requiring tattooists to be licensed and reform of pharmacy services. 

However, on March 16 Labour assembly member Leighton Andrews offended Plaid. Speaking during an assembly debate he referred to a previous deal between the two parties to pass legislation, describing Plaid as a 'cheap date'. This lost Labour the vital support of the sympathetic Plaid members, spelling the end of the bill for now. 

Plaid Cymru said Mr Andrews had chosen to 'belittle co-operation and put his own government's legislation in jeopardy'. 

RCN Wales director Tina Donnelly said she was disappointed, adding: ‘This bill was a carefully constructed piece of potential legislation that could have created positive change for the health of the public and set a precedent for the rest of the UK.’

Labour health minister Mark Drakeford said: ‘I remain absolutely baffled a throwaway remark on the floor of the assembly could turn into a decision to throw away that bill and everything it would have done.’

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