A ban on e-cigarettes in public places in Wales has failed to be passed, in a move branded 'bitterly disappointing' by doctors leaders.
Welsh Assembly members have failed to enact the Public Health (Wales) Bill, a major piece of legislation that would have seen e-cigarettes banned from schools, public transport and from places where food is sold, as well as a raft of other measures.
The bill had been expected to pass with the support of some Plaid AMs, but the party decided to vote against it at the last minute.
It was the final day for the bill to be considered by the Assembly before the election.
BMA Cymru Wales council chair Phil Banfield (pictured) said: 'Both doctors and nurses are deeply disappointed that the bill has fallen at this stage, in this way, ending what has been a huge collaborative effort over a number of years, to improve the health and well-being of the nation.
A step back
Dr Banfield said: 'As professionals, doctors and nurses put patients before their own personal positions; we are experts in assessing evidence and highly trusted to do what we believe to be in the best interests of the health of the population.
'Sadly, with the fall of the [bill], Wales has stepped back from the vanguard of public health policy.
Dr Banfield added: 'We reiterate that failure to prove harm is not evidence of safety, and we are sad that the opportunity to shield our children from the possible re-normalisation of smoking behaviour has been squandered.'
A particular disappointment to BMA Cymru Wales is the failure to place HIAs (health impact assessments) on the statute books.
If the bill had been passed, then all Welsh policies would have been assessed for their impact on public health.
Wales would have become just the second country in the world to introduce HIAs after a major lobbying campaign from BMA Cymru Wales to see them included in the bill.
Dr Banfield added: 'The professions have worked closely with the health minister and Assembly members to place HIAs on a statutory footing — something we firmly believe would make a very real difference to the lives of the people of Wales.
'We are bitterly disappointed that the opportunity to enact world-leading public health policy on HIAs has been wasted, and feel full of remorse for those whose health will suffer.'
Dr Banfield said BMA Cymru Wales, together with the Royal College of Nursing, had called for all political parties in the next Assembly to work together and not to be side-tracked with 'game playing'.
The story so far
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