In October, the NNA and Clive Bates wrote to the government with a list of ten proposals it could adopt to help achieve No.10’s stated aim of achieving a smoke-free UK by 2030:
- Lift the ban on oral tobacco (snus) and properly regulate all smokeless tobacco
- Raise the limit on nicotine concentration in vaping liquids to allow vaping products to compete more effectively with cigarettes
- Replace bans on advertising of vaping products on TV, radio, internet and in publications with controls on themes and placement
- Replace blanket bans on advertising of low-risk tobacco products with controls on themes and placement
- Replace excessive and inappropriate warnings on vaping products with risk communications that encourage smokers to try switching
- Replace excessive and inappropriate warnings on non-combustible tobacco products
- Allow and enable candid communication of relative risk to consumers
- Adopt a fresh approach to pack inserts for both vaping products and cigarettes to encourage switching to lower risk products
- Remove wasteful restrictions on vaping product tank and e-liquid container size that have no discernible purpose
- Recognise and regulate novel oral nicotine products
Asked for comment, Pawsey expressed his absolute support for the proposals from the NNA.
He said: “One of the problems legislators have is that there are far too many people who equate the use of e-cigarettes with smoking. There are so many places where when developing a vaping policy, they looked at their smoking policy and just applied that to people who use e-cigarettes. If we accept that vaping is 95% safer than smoking, and it’s not me or any users saying that it’s Public Health England, then we really ought to allow people to communicate that message.”
“Vaping does a job” – Mark Pawsey MP
“One of the reasons I’m involved with vaping is, I’m not a vaper myself, that somebody in my office is an enthusiastic vaper because having tried patches and gums and lots of other ways, the only way that worked for Youssef was switching to vaping products. I want to see that message get across.
“In the last year or two, there has been more equating of vaping with tobacco and we need to be able to allow people to talk about it.”
Mark also expressed his enthusiastic support to change the law applying to bottles, “there’s no rational at all around bottle size”, and the strength of nicotine available.
“One of the things I found out about vaping just before we set up the APPG was when I went to visit a small vaping retailer. I saw how he spent lots of time with a new customer and found out about what their tastes were, which brand of cigarettes they were using, how heavy a smoker they were, and he created a product which was most likely to help the customer move away from tobacco.”
It was this experienced that showed Mark how some smokers need a higher strength of nicotine, especially during their early use of products, to enable them to make a successful switch.
“We really need to allow a higher strength of nicotine for people who need that” – Mark Pawsey MP
Mark was asked about his views on Brexit and how it may impact how Europe’s next iteration of the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) may influence our legislation.
Referring in particular to the three aspects of the TPD he’d just spoken about, “that don’t make any sense”: “We do have the opportunity to change things, and I speak as somebody who supported remaining in the EU. Given where we are with COVID and the challenge to the economy, I’m not sure that this is going to be the top priority for government right now – but the opportunity will come along.
“Government will only do those things if they get pressure from MPs and MPs react to pressure from their own constituents. One of the key messages I hope people take from [this] is that people engage with their MPs, communicate with them the importance of changing these three particular features, and I’d also like people to encourage their MPs to come along and engage with the All-party Parliamentary Group.
“We’re doing a couple of enquiries on the APPG. We’ve got one coming up pretty immediately which will be looking at the COP 9 [the Council of Parties World Health Organization conference next year]. We want to influence that and there is some concern that the WHO is seeing the use of e-cigarettes in exactly the same way as tobacco.
“Later, next year, we’ll be doing a separate enquiry into how we can fashion the UK legislation in respect of vaping and tobacco-related products.”
“I could do with more MPs; I could do with more support in Westminster” – Mark Pawsey MP
“For those who feel strongly about it: Get in touch with your MP, in your communication tell them about the All-party Parliamentary Group and ask them to come along and get involved.”