UK Politics

Posted 10th March 2020 by Dave Cross
Labour’s Alex Cunningham wants a ban on vaping in enclosed public spaces and Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi is back with worries over lung disease. In addition, MPs debated the forthcoming World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).

Cunningham, MP for Stockton North, asked is the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care will if he will “make an assessment of the potential merits” of extending the ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces to cover vaping as well. Cunningham did not elaborate on what these “potential merits” would be or who fed him those lies.

Under-secretary Jo Churchill replied: “Currently, there are no plans to do so. Public Health England’s 2018 evidence review found that to date, there have been no identified health risks of passive vaping to bystanders. The report can be accessed at the following [link].”

Slough MP Singh Dhesi has put forward a number of anti-vape questions since the election, although this couple from last week were more general. He asked the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care what assessments have been conducted to look at lung disease trends, and “what recent steps he has taken to reduce the incidence of lung disease?”

Churchill, again, pointed out that “smoking is the biggest preventable risk factor for serious lung diseases in England,” and that all of the answers to both of his questions could have been found in the Government’s Tobacco Control Plan for England [link].

She added: “The rate of emergency admissions to hospital for respiratory diseases has increased significantly from 2013/14 to 2018/19. The number of new cases of lung cancer has increased from 2001-03 to 2015-17, in both men and women. However, after adjustment for the size of the population and its age, the incidence rate of lung cancer has steadily fallen in men but risen in women.”


The WHO FCTC debate was opened by Tory Bob Blackman, chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on smoking and health, who said: “It is fair to say that the one target on which we have been extremely challenged is persuading pregnant women to stop smoking.”

“Last month, yet again, the UK was rated best in Europe for our comprehensive tobacco control strategy, and as we have now left the European Union, we want no backsliding from that performance.”

Then, he cautioned: “The tobacco industry is attempting to undermine this comprehensive approach. Leaked documents that appeared in The Guardian—not a publication that I normally read—and in the “Dispatches” programme showed that Philip Morris International, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, is attempting to buy influence”.

He went on to advocate for the “polluter pays” principle, “making the industry pay for the damage that its products do.”

Blackman’s position was supported by Labour’s Alex Cunningham: “Requiring tobacco manufacturers to pay into the smoke-free 2030 fund mentioned by the hon. Gentleman would provide sustainable funding to motivate the smokers in my constituency who want to quit, or who want to give quitting a go, and would fund the specialist support for those who need it.”


Unfortunately, neither Blackman nor Cunningham mentioned the role vaping is playing in reducing harm and the potential it offers for pregnant women, and Jo Churchill failed to reference vaping in any of her responses. Pushing the World Health Organisation to adopting the tobacco harm reduction potential of vaping is imperative considering the UK is the largest single funder of the WHO FCTC and we lead the world in combatting tobacco harm with electronic cigarettes.


  • WHO FCTC debate – [link]

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, motorbikes, and dog walker
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