The questions follow on from last week’s concerning turn to focus on the negative and largely fictious aspects of harm reduction.
“To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if his Department will launch an inquiry into deaths relating to vaping,” wrote Andrea Jenkyns as a parliamentary question to the Department of Health.
Jo Churchill, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care, responded: “There are no current plans to conduct an inquiry. Cases have been reported in the United States of America of acute lung injury suspected to be associated with e-cigarette use or vaping, although Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recently recognised that either tetrahydrocannabinol or Vitamin E Acetate as the likely cause of the USA outbreak. Although to date reports in the United Kingdom do not reflect the trends in volume and pattern of the respiratory events seen in the USA, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is conducting surveillance to ensure they can identify potential cases.”
“UK regulated e-cigarettes are far less harmful than smoking although not completely risk free. Five fatalities have been reported to the MHRA in the UK that may have been associated with e-cigarette use. Importantly there is no evidence that all the deaths were caused by e-cigarette use. This needs to be put into context of over 3 million e-cigarette users in the UK, and that smoking kills over 78,000 people each year alone in England.”
“The MHRA continues to assess all reports received in association with nicotine-containing e-cigarettes and take appropriate action to protect public health.”
The Marquess of Lothian had a detailed list of points he wanted the government to respond to:
- What statistics are held about the prevalence of e-cigarette use, particularly among young people
- What evidence is being collected to determine whether e-cigarettes and vaping devices are an effective way to stop smoking
- What action is being taken to ensure that there is full awareness of the health risks of using e-cigarettes and vaping devices amongst young people
Baroness Blackwood, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care in the House of Lords, replied: “Data from nationally representative surveys indicate that, in England, current vaping among young people remains low and concentrated among those who have already smoked. Among adults, vaping prevalence is 6.3%, with almost all vapers being smokers or ex-smokers. This data can be found in the attached Office for National Statistics statistical bulletin, Adult smoking habits in the United Kingdom: 2018.”
“Smoking rates continue to decline among both adults and youth. Public Health England (PHE) monitors the developing evidence on effectiveness of e-cigarettes for quitting smoking. A major UK randomised control trial has found e-cigarettes to be twice as effective as nicotine replacement therapy products when combined with behavioural support.”
“Data from English stop smoking services indicate that people who use an e-cigarette in their attempt to quit have the highest success rates. UK regulation of e-cigarettes includes measures to protect young people, including a ban on most forms of advertising, a minimum age of sale of 18 years and a ban on proxy purchasing.”
“PHE provides evidence-based information to healthcare professionals, teachers and the public about the relative harmfulness of e-cigarettes, vaping devices and smoked tobacco.”