House of Commons officials have changed the rules to allow MPs to puff on e-cigarettes in parliament.
Although the devices are banned in many British offices and public spaces, lobbying from MPs and researchers means the country's politicians will soon be able to puff on e-cigarettes within parliament, BuzzFeed News has learned. This is despite the World Health Organisation recommending a complete ban on use of the devices indoors.
The news is a big boost for the booming vaping industry, which is worth billions of pounds and has been lobbying hard against regulation. It is also likely to be welcomed by pro-vaping activists, who espouse the nicotine-heavy alternative to tobacco.
But vaping politicians and their staff will be limited to just three areas: part of the Portcullis House building, their own offices, and Stranger's – the main pub for MPs.
The new guidelines were set out in the formal minutes of the Commons Administration Committee:
MPs and their staff had been lobbying hard for a dedicated "vaping room" in Parliament.
At the moment, many e-smokers huddle in groups in the freezing courtyard outside Portcullis House or the lawns at the back of the Commons because the rules aren't clear.
The Mail on Sunday reported in November that the Administration Committee wanted to ban vaping in the Commons chamber and the main areas where tour groups walk through.
MPs were concerned that this would lead to a blanket ban on vaping across the estate. But the new guidelines – which now need to be approved by Speaker John Bercow – mean vaping politicians can at least puff away in the warm.