Letters: BMA is too hasty over call for e-cigarette ban

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It is disappointing to see the BMA calling for a ban on the use of e-cigarettes in public, especially when they seem unable to make an evidence-based case for their position. If they looked at the actual evidence they might come to a different conclusion.

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health stated that there is a 99.7% compliance rate with the smoking ban and there is no evidence to support the idea that the use of e-cigarettes in public is undermining this.

The ban on smoking in enclosed public places was introduced to benefit the health of non-smokers whose health was put at risk as a result of being in close proximity to smokers. Therefore, any proposal to include e-cigarettes within this ban must also be to protect the health of non-vapers.

Is passive vaping dangerous? A major scientific study undertaken by Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos and Professor Riccardo Polosa concluded that the ‘effects of e-cigarette use on by-standers are minimal compared with conventional cigarettes.’

If the BMA succeeds in banning e-cigarettes in public places, they will be forcing vapers to vape alongside smokers and exposing them to the dangers of second-hand smoke.

We are in contact with vapers on a daily basis and many have said such a ban would simply force them back to smoking.

With a ban on the advertising of e-cigarettes soon to be introduced, following the passing of the Tobacco Products Directive, where are smokers to find out about e-cigarettes, particularly if they are banned in public?

Smokers need to see people using e-cigarettes in public, they need to be able to go up and speak to e-cigarette users so that they can find out further information and then hopefully make the switch to a safer alternative.

K Knight, www.saveecigs.com

When is a cathedral not a cathedral?

Before the kirk session of St Giles go ahead with their plan to have ‘St Giles’ Cathedral’ carved into the masonry by the west door, perhaps they ought to think about whether the word ‘Cathedral’ is really appropriate.

Historically, St Giles was the ‘hie kirk’ or parish church of what we now call the Old Town of Edinburgh.

It only became a cathedral briefly in the late 17th century when episcopacy was forced on a reluctant Church of Scotland, which reverted to its Presbyterian system of church government after the so-called ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1690.

Not the most glorious episode in the Kirk’s history, so why would they want to perpetuate it with this outdated nomenclature? I am old enough to remember several attempts in the 20th century to amalgamate the Church of Scotland with the Scottish Episcopal Church, all of which failed due to the reluctance of clerical and lay members of the Kirk to accept an episcopal form of church government. Cathedrals are part of that system.

Glasgow Cathedral and the corresponding foundations in Dunkeld, Brechin, Dunblane, Kirkwall, etc, were at least functioning cathedrals in the Middle Ages, but St Giles can make no such claim.

Harry D Watson, Braehead Grove, Edinburgh

Housing Act a welcome protection for tenants

There are approximately 305,000 properties in the private rented sector in Scotland, with over 150,000 leased through one of around 750 letting agents across the country.

As the largest body representing letting agents in Scotland, the Council of Letting Agents (CLA) welcomes the recent passing of the Housing Act by the Scottish Parliament and I am writing to ensure your readers know what they can expect as a result of this legislation if they are renting through a letting agent.

Measures that will become law include a requirement for extensive training and a mandatory register for letting agents in Scotland. The Act will also require thorough electrical checks to be carried out on all properties at least every five years and the mandatory installation of carbon monoxide detectors.

It will also allow local councils to enter private rented property if they do not believe properties are being maintained to the required standards.

The CLA believe these measures will help stamp out rogue behaviour so that our members’ businesses can thrive and tenants are protected.

If you are a tenant or landlord and are having problems with a letting agent, you can check if they are a member of the CLA on our website (www.counciloflettingagents.co.uk/members)

Fraser Sutherland, 9% Property Management, c/o Walker Street, Edinburgh

Enjoy strawberry tea and help Cancer Care

The strawberry season has finally arrived and I’m writing to ask your readers to host a Strawberry Tea party for Breast Cancer Care - the only UK-wide specialist support charity.

A Strawberry Tea is simple. Just spoil your guests with sweet treats, add some fragrant strawberries, keep the tea flowing and ask for a donation in return.

I believe my sister, Lynn, who had breast cancer, would have been delighted with a Strawberry Tea! She delighted in everything that life offers, from Scrabble to strawberries and she always used to mimic our mother Rachel, “It’s only a LITTLE sugar and a LITTLE cream and butter!”

So I say, ‘Let’s start baking for a strawberry tea!’ Through holding a Strawberry Tea for Breast Cancer Care you can ensure that everyone facing this devastating disease has someone to turn to for information and support. Whatever you raise will make a huge difference - just £2 provides a headscarf for a woman who has lost her hair during treatment.

To register go to www.breastcancercare.org.uk/kettle anytime before 31 August or call 0870-164 9422.

Vanessa Redgrave, CBE, Breast Cancer Care, London