Private hire and hackney carriage drivers could be banned from using e-cigarettes in their vehicles under proposals being considered by councillors.
Passengers in vehicles will also be banned from vaping if a new amendment to licences and conditions in Calderdale is given the go-ahead by the licence and regulatory committee. The final decision will then go before full council.
Under the Health Act 2006, “smoking” refers to smoking tobacco or anything which contains tobacco, or smoking any other substance, and smoking includes being in possession of lit tobacco or of anything lit which contains tobacco, or being in possession of any other lit substance in a form in which it could be smoked.
As an e-cigarette is neither lit nor does it produce smoke (they produce vapour) it is not an offence to “vape” within a Hackney Carriage or Private Hire Vehicle.
In a report to the committee it although they are not subject to any regulation at this time there are still some concerns regarding e-cigarette safety as few of the manufacturers disclose the ingredients within the products.
"The short term health risks associated with e-cigarette use appear to be minimal but the potential long term impact remains unknown," the report said.
"The vapour emitted from the e-cigarettes may trigger smoke alarms; the vapour may also affect those around who suffer with health issues for example, sensitive asthma."
The report also revealed that on numerous occasions officers have witnessed drivers appearing to smoke in their vehicles but it turned out hey were vaping an e-cigarette.
As it is not an offence under the Health Act 2006 to vape, officers cannot issue a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN).
Members of the committee will decide whether to amend the current private hire licence conditions, hackney carriage drivers'cod of conduct and operator conditions regarding the smoking of e-cigarettes in vehicles and operator premises.
The changes will make it an offence to use an e-cigarette in vehicles and in taxi ranks.