Politics & Campaigns

THR in Parliament

Tobacco harm reduction has been the subject of recent parliamentary business.

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Rosie Cooper was concerned about the steps being taken to encourage pregnant women to quit smoking. Lord Rennard wanted to know what was being done to streamline the medicinal licensing process for e-cigarettes. Bob Blackman introduced a 10-minute bill to require tobacco companies to publish sales and marketing data.

Rosie Cooper asked: “What steps the Government is taking to better promote awareness and understanding of healthy behaviour including (a) reducing smoking during pregnancy and (b) promoting breastfeeding beyond the first weeks after birth which are integral to improving the health of children in early years?”

Jackie Doyle-Price replied that Public Health England, Health Education England and the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training published a range of online resources to support midwifery teams to have meaningful conversations with pregnant women about quitting smoking.

Currently, the smoking rate in pregnant women has risen and trials are taking place to see if vaping works as a switch tool.

In the House of Lords, Lord Rennard asked: “What progress the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has made in setting up an expert group to provide advice on streamlining the medicinal licensing process for e-cigarettes, whether that expert group has been convened yet, and if not then what steps they will take to expedite that process?”

Baroness Blackwood replied that the ad hoc working group of experts had finally agreed the terms of reference last month, who should serve in the group, and appointed a chair. The first meeting of the group is due to take place later this month.

Bob Blackman proposed a motion to require tobacco companies to be more transparent, forcing them to publish sales and marketing data in line with the recommendations made in the recent report from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health.

Blackman said: “Smoking still accounts for approximately 79,000 deaths a year in England alone, and therefore remains the top priority for public health policy. It is the leading cause of preventable premature death and is responsible for half the difference in life expectancy between the richest and poorest in our communities.”

“The World Health Organisation framework convention on tobacco control, to which the UK is a party, obliges Governments to implement stringent control of the tobacco industry for the protection of public health to a greater extent than for any other legal consumer product. That includes the monitoring and surveillance of industry behaviour and ensuring that public policy is protected ​from the commercial and vested interests of the tobacco industry.”

He said that monitoring was made difficult due to the lack of full disclosure, and “commercially available data are often available only at extremely high cost.”

He pointed out that although the industry claims it shouldn’t have to publish the required information for confidentiality reasons, Canada and New Zealand have already passed similar legislation.

Ian Paisley, in opposing the motion, spoke out in favour of vaping: “I am pleased to welcome the House to the month of VApril - a month to celebrate the positive switch that smokers can make to vaping. The campaign is backed by businesses - both tobacco companies and independent e-cigarette businesses - and by consumers and retailers. I stress that the products are manufactured in the United Kingdom and keep people in employment in the United Kingdom, and that those people pay taxes in the United Kingdom. They are, therefore, incredibly important.”

“If the hon. Gentleman really wants to stop more people smoking, as I do, he needs to get behind vaping and work to tell more smokers about the difference and improvement it can make to their lives and health, with an approximately 95% reduction in harm compared with smoking.”



Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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