On the schedule of The House of Lords Business today
“Lord Callanan to move that a Humble Address be presented to Her Majesty praying that the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016, laid before the House on 22 April, be annulled on the grounds that its restrictions on product choice and advertising of vaping devices were devised before evidence had accumulated that vaping was enabling many people to quit smoking, run counter to advice from the Royal College of Physicians to promote vaping and are so severe that they could force vapers back to smoking and create a black market with harmful products (SI 2015/507).”
Lord Callanan is a hugely experienced senior politician. In the European Parliament he led the successful efforts by which MEPs blocked compulsory medicinal regulation that would have wiped out of vaping. Nobody has been more effective at defending vaping than him.
Unless Lord Callanan is forced by pressure from Downing Street to withdraw his motion there will be a debate and a vote. Under parliamentary rules if the Lords agree to this motion the statutory instrument implementing the TPD in the UK will fall. Such procedures are called “fatal motions” because the regulations get killed outright and do not go back to the Commons. (For geeks: the Lords have until 10 June to vote against this delegated legislation. That will be the end of the 40 days of “praying time” during which a successful motion can block the statutory instrument. This is the case even though the law has previously gone into effect as the TPD will on 20 May.)
The Lords are strongly against the TPD rules on vaping as was shown in last week’s debate. They have also shown the Government up once already regarding disability benefit cuts - and it is possible they will enjoy bloodying the Government’s nose once again over this ludicrous legislation that stands to do more harm than good.
The Lords know there are severe problems with the TPD’s rules on vaping. Government officials have acknowledged that they could increase smoking and the health minister told the Lords that he hoped enforcement would be lax. The shadow minister said that he could not understand why e-cigarettes were included in the TPD and described opposition to vaping as “bonkers”. Two years ago his boss, Jeremy Corbyn, signed a parliamentary motion against the TPD rules on vaping.
As politicians see increasing vaper pressure they are already trying to be creative in finding a solution. Technically the EU could start “infraction proceedings” against the UK for not fully implementing Article 20 but this would look very bad. Brussels wants to make friends not encourage anti-EU sentiment.
Don’t forget that there are now more of us than in 2013 when vaper power helped swing the day in the European Parliament there were 1.3 million vapers in the UK. Now there are 2.8 million of us.
Also Westminster and Brussels have reason to be helpful. The politicians are seeing the evidence that some of the rules are no longer fit for purpose. More fundamentally they do not want vapers to decide their referendum votes on this issue.
It is more important right now than ever before that we make as much noise as we possibly can. We know that you have put your effort behind so many causes and campaigns before and that collective effort has got us to the point we are at now. So we urge you now to respectfully demonstrate to our leaders the vast numbers of us who want them to use the opportunity of Lord Callanan’s motion to rethink the specific problems we have with TPD.
What you can do today.
- Tweet: send your support using the hashtag #LordsVapeVote to @Number10gov @jeremycorbyn @MartinCallanan
- Petition: if we could all sign this: Petition to Parliament it will also help to show the amount of people behind
When we pull together we can be an unstoppable force for change. If we do not take today’s opportunity presented by Lord Callanan’s initiative then we might literally have to wait until around 2026 for the next Tobacco Products Directive to be implemented for even a chance of improvement. So wait ten years - or tweet today like you have never tweeted before!