Wales gives anti-vaping Blockleiters a Big Red Panic Button

Then the Midwich Cuckoos show up

Publicly owned open spaces in Wales now feature a Red Button that panic-stricken citizens can smack in fury when they spot a vaper on the premises.

The button triggers an anonymous pre-recorded PA announcement – read out by a child.

The system, which has been introduced at four hospitals, is designed to curb smoking. But this being Wales, it also covers e-cigarette use.

Wales has a powerful “public health” lobby which appears to view vapour as more of a threat to public health than cigarettes. The Welsh Health Bill originally called for a full vaping ban in all public spaces but this proposal did not make it into the final act.

“The audio system enables onlookers to anonymously push a red button which will trigger a PA message that reminds smokers that it is a smoke free site and asks them to extinguish their cigarette,” one hospital explains, helpfully providing an illustration of this vital public service.

"The University Health Board’s policy also includes the use of e-cigarettes in response to concerns about the safety and potentially harmful emissions of e-cigarettes and that their use may undermine efforts to de-normalise the act of smoking," the Hywel Dda University Board explains.

For added creepiness, children have spoken the pre-recorded messages. You can find an example here. (mp3)

But why stop there? Vaping is harmless, but evidently irritates someone, somewhere. If the threshold of “irritation” is sufficient to justify a dedicated PA alert system, then this could be useful spread to other areas.

Awareness of the proximity of members of UKIP, or Brexiteers, could be spread by a purple button. Nearby vegans discomforting you could merit a dark green button. Anything that irritates anyone, anywhere can therefore justify a panic button of some kind.

And this could only be the start. The drawback of the Red Panic Button is that it's static. But the concept could go truly digital and be developed into a mobile app. Anytime you see a vaper, pop up the app and give it a smack. Wales would then be the healthiest, most comfortable country on the planet. ®

(Thanks to Ian Woolley for the tip)


Blockleiters, also known as Blockwarts, were low-level party functionaries in National Socialist Germany. Their primary duty was "to anchor the party members of their cell or block ever more firmly to the party" and its views.

"It is necessary for the cell or block warden to know the reasons for the government’s various economic measures so that he can deal forthrightly with the fault-finding and false criticisms of party members and non-party members," as a 1935 Nazi Party training manual explains.

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