During the last First Minister’s Questions of the year, I raised the issue of the much-talked about Metro system, which is vital if we are to improve transport links across the region.
I made the point that the plans must not just be focused on relieving traffic congestion in Cardiff.
There must be major benefits to improving connectivity across the Valleys and into Newport as well as Cardiff.
The First Minister explained that cross-valley links were being looked at, based mainly on a system of bus rapid transit.
For too long the valleys has been the poor relation in terms of transport and the Metro system must lead to a step change.
I was pleased that the Health Minister finally saw sense and withdraw his plans for a widespread ban on e-cigarettes from all enclosed public spaces and workplaces. The Minister says he will now look to bring forward proposals banning vaping in only specific places. I’m still opposed to any ban.
During the debate, I said that Wales faced many challenges health wise ranging from obesity to the need to increase immunisation levels and providing support to those with mental illness. Yet Assembly Members were talking about vaping.
The Government’s targeting of e-cigarettes – trying to put them in the same box as tobacco – is ill-informed and misunderstands the point of them in helping people quit tobacco.
Treating these products with pariah status will lead to many people, who want to quit but needed the help of e-cigarettes, being put off their use. How many lives could potentially be lost in this way?
There is clear evidence that e-cigarettes have helped millions of people stop smoking tobacco or seriously reduce their intake. People have quit smoking after decades. E-cigarettes have brought hope and better health to countless numbers of people.
During a debate in the Senedd, I also pointed out that there is strong opposition to a ban on e-cigarettes from august organisations such as the Royal College of Physicians, the British Lung Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Tenovus and the British Heart Foundation.
Finally, I wish all Observer readers a happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous new year. I’ll be back in the new year.