Woman felt 'discriminated against' after being asked to stop using electronic cigarette in Freshney Place
FRESHNEY Place shopping centre has apologised to a great grandmother who complained of discrimination after being asked to stop using an electronic cigarette.
Bosses have admitted their policy may need updating after the "embarrassing" experience of retired dental nurse Anita Kelly, pictured right.
She was approached by security guards and told that it was against the rules for her to be using the smoking device.
Although Mrs Kelly explained that using an electronic cigarette in a public place was not illegal, the guards maintained that if she wanted to use it, she would have to leave.
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The 62-year-old, of Winchcombe Avenue, Grimsby, said: "I was sitting on a bench and got out my nicotine vaporizer.
"After a short time, a security guard told me I had to stop. I explained that it doesn't release anything harmful and using it isn't illegal. I have been in other places using it without a problem, even in House of Fraser's cafe, which is inside Freshney Place. There are no signs saying that using it is not allowed and as it is not illegal.
"I would never dream of lighting a cigarette up in a public place.
"I feel discriminated against because I am using something to try and improve my health."
Mrs Kelly has smoked since she was 15 and used to light up about 25 a day.
Now she uses an electronic cigarette, and has cut down to smoking about three cigarettes a day.
She added: "I would like Freshney Place to be more forward-thinking and understanding.
"I am saddened by the shopping centre's ignorance and if going there causes me grief, I will stay away."
Shopping centre director Amanda Austin said: "The decision was made not to allow people to use electronic cigarettes within Freshney Place as they often appear very similar to real cigarettes and other shoppers may think that people are smoking in the centre.
"Anyone smoking or using an electronic cigarette within the centre will be politely asked to stop or move outside away from entrances. We are sorry if it caused Mrs Kelly any upset or embarrassment.
"We regularly review all our policies and how they are implemented. In light of Mrs Kelly's comments, we will review this particular policy again as Freshney Place supports anyone trying or stop or cut down smoking."
Neil Clark, community protection manager, said: “While e-cigarettes are legal in the UK, national research is still ongoing into the possible health implications or other problems which could be associated with them.
“The amount of nicotine and other substances a person gets from each cartridge may be uncertain and many people may not know how much nicotine they are taking in when using the devices.
“Different brands of e-cigarettes may deliver markedly different amounts of nicotine vapour with each puff, so it may be possible to inhale a large dose of nicotine, which is itself a toxic substance. Always read the labelling of the product so you know the dose of nicotine it gives out.
“People using them should also check that the electrical charging devices are CE marked to show they are fully compliant with the relevant legislation.
“My advice to people who want to quit smoking is to seek the support of the local specialist smoking cessation service.”