Gavin Robinson, the DUP’s Shadow Home Affairs and Defence spokesperson asked the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care if he had made any assessments of “the potential merits” of banning advertising for hybrid nicotine-based products like vape devices.
Vapers may wonder how banning advertising helps to inform smokers about the benefits of switching and vendors might think targeting a legal industry like this is ridiculous.
Jo Churchill, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care, responded: “No specific assessment has been made recently. Product standards and requirements of e-cigarettes, including how they are advertised, is regulated by the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 (TRPR).”
She added that there will be a post implementation review of TRPR. Part of this includes a public consultation on the regulations which, “will provide an opportunity to comment on the current advertising regulations for e-cigarettes”.
That noise you hear is the sound of advocacy organisations gearing up to refute the inevitable nonsense that will be submitted by Michael Bloomberg’s minions.
MP for Midlothian Owen Thompson asked the Secretary of State if research has looked at, “the effect of passive exposure to exhaled e-cigarette vapour or cigarette smoke on the transmission of COVID-19.”
Jo Churchill told him no specific research had been conducted in this area but, “being in close proximity to anyone with COVID-19 infection would carry a risk of passing on that infection regardless of whether they are smoking or vaping.”
She pointed him towards the advice given by Public Health England [link].
Lee Anderson, the Conservative representative for Ashfield, raised a troubling answer from Jo Churchill after he asked about the plans to include the EU's Tobacco Products Directive when developing the next Tobacco Control Plan.
Churchill replied that the plan will be published over the summer. She confirmed that Great Britain doesn’t have to comply with the European Union’s Tobacco Products Directive and so there is an opportunity to consider new regulatory changes.
The problem comes when she added: “Any changes will be based on robust international evidence and be in the interests of public health.”
Alarm bells could be forgiven for ringing given that international evidence is frequently far from “robust”.
Anderson followed this up by seeking to find out what assessments have been made of the health benefits of ensuring that smokers have information about and access to a wide range of reduced risk smoking-related products. He pressed the government to make both more readily available. Gavin Robinson probably hopes they don’t.
Jo Churchill confirmed that the government will continue to review the evidence for vaping. She added: “Although not risk free, current evidence suggests e-cigarettes are far less harmful to health than smoking and help people quit. There are already 2.5 million e-cigarettes users in England, which suggests that these products are widely accessible.”
Lauding Public Health England for its stop smoking campaigns, the information and advice it provides to help smokers quit, she failed to mention what plans were in place for the future as a cloud hangs over the organisation’s future.