Parliament Discusses E-cigs and Tobacco

Posted 26th March 2021 by Dave Cross
In the House of Commons, John Spellar MP was concerned about vaping in public. In the House of Lords, Baroness Hayman was worried about littering and Viscount Ridley inquired about the reasons for the continuing ban on snus, a product that has delivered a huge reduction in Scandinavian smoking rates.

Warley’s John Spellar asked the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care if there were plans to issue further instructions to the public about vaping in public spaces. Spellar has not commented on vaping before so little is known about his motivation for posing the question.

Jo Churchill, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, told him there are no current plans to issue further guidance as the current guidance is adequate. Vaping does not pose a health hazard to non-vapers and it does not spread the Covid virus.

Baroness Hayman of Ullock wondered if there were any specific tests, “to determine whether or not tobacco industry plans for a voluntary approach to preventing littering of cigarette filters?” She also wanted to know if a cost assessment had been made of the problem caused by cigarette butts.

One of the early arguments put to Parliament was that encouraging smokers to switch to vaping would lead to a decrease in tobacco related littering.

Lord Goldsmith told Baroness Hayman: “We believe that the tobacco industry must take responsibility for the litter created by its products. Our most recent composition survey found cigarette butts represent 66% of all littered items.

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“Preliminary research has shown an estimated cost to UK local authorities and other duty bodies of £40m per annum for the collection and disposal of littered cigarette butts, rising to £46m when including those disposed of in public bins. This has been drawn from an analysis of local authority spend on litter using local authority revenue outturns, litter composition studies across the UK and local authority surveys and interviews. This research is undergoing quality assurance and will be published in due course.

“We have made clear that we will continue to monitor the available evidence on smoking related litter and that if it continues to be a significant environmental concern, we will reflect on the steps Government can take to ensure that the tobacco industry takes more responsibility. Measures in the Environment Bill will allow us to legislate for an extended producer responsibility scheme for tobacco products, if such an intervention was considered necessary. Cigarette and tobacco product packaging will be covered by the upcoming reforms to the packaging producer responsibility scheme.”

Viscount Ridley was one of the very first politicians to recognise the health dividend society would enjoy if the country promoted vaping as a safer alternative to smoking. Also, he firmly believes in evidence-based policy and consequently spoke out against the Tobacco Products Directive.

The Tory Viscount believes the current ban on snus lacks logic or evidential support. He asked the government which scientific research is being used to maintain the ban and if the Committee on Toxicity has been asked to undertake a toxicological evaluation of snus, non-tobacco oral nicotine pouches, and smokeless tobacco products.

Lord Bethell responded: “The European Commission set out the evidence underpinning the ban in the Tobacco Products Directive’s impact assessment and in previous Directives. The Department is currently undertaking a post-implementation review of the TRPR and this includes a public consultation that closes on the 19 March 2021. The Department will review the evidence submitted to consider if the regulations have met their objectives or if any future regulatory changes should be considered.

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“The Department is considering whether the Committee on Toxicity should undertake an evaluation of non-tobacco oral nicotine pouches in its work programme in the next financial year. COT will not consider smokeless tobacco products because their dangers and harms are well documented in the existing evidence base.”


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