Questions About Vaping In Parliament

Posted 2nd April 2021 by Dave Cross
The wealth of current activity surrounding vaping and tobacco harm reduction is evidence that parliament has truly returned to normal. Nobody has been more active in this sphere than Labour’s Mary Glindon who has posed a number of questions. Vapers and harm reduction advocates will be delighted with the themes running through her questions, all of which were very positive and urged the kind of changes we wish to see from the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations review.

Mary Glindon, an Opposition Whip in the House of Commons, first asked the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport if he had made an assessment of the potential effect on reducing levels of smoking by improving the public perception of vape products. In particular, she wanted him to allow manufactures and retailers to be able to communicate honest, evidenced health claims and switching messages to adult smokers.

Her reply came from Minister of State Caroline Dinenage, who said: “E-cigarettes in the UK are tightly regulated by the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 (TRPR) and the Nicotine Inhaling Products (Age of Sale and Proxy Purchasing) Regulations 2015 (NIP). These regulations aim to reduce the risk of harm to children; to protect against any risk of renormalisation of tobacco use; and to provide assurance on relative safety for users. The regulations include restrictions on mainstream TV and radio advertising; prevent sale to under 18s; and limit both tank sizes and nicotine content.

My department works closely with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) who facilitate the self-regulation of the UK advertising sector through the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (BCAP Code) and The UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (CAP Code). The ASA has a clear framework for advertisers to follow in relation to what is and is not allowed when making health claims about vapes or e-cigarettes.

It would appear that the key consideration for advertisers is whether their marketing communications do anything further than provide basic, factual information about the products. Any content that appears to make the product seem more attractive is likely to be regarded as promotional and therefore likely to be ruled against by the ASA and removed.”

So, that was a long-winded way of saying, “No, we’ve done no assessment”.

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Glindon also asked the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care if the Government was on track to reach the Smoke-Free 2030 target.

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State Jo Churchill provided the response: “This Government is committed to levelling up in society to ensure no communities get left behind. This is why we announced our bold ambition for England to be Smokefree by 2030 because we want to continue to address the harms from smoking. As part of this commitment, we have announced the publication of a new Tobacco Control Plan which will set out our roadmap to achieving this challenging ambition. The Plan is due to be published in Summer 2021.”

Translation: “No, we aren’t.”

Then Glindon took the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to task by asking if any assessment had been made of the potential to reduce single-use plastics by allowing larger e-liquid bottles.

This reply came from Rebecca Pow: “The Government has made no specific assessment of the potential merits for reducing single-use plastics by allowing larger e-liquid bottles for e-cigarettes. Regardless of size, e-liquid bottles can and should be recyclable.”

TMBNotes

Pow continued with a diatribe about how wonderful the government is at eliminating avoidable plastic waste, which wasn’t the point of the question at all – but she did get back on track eventually: “The Department of Health and Social Care is undertaking a post implementation review of the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 that provides the regulatory framework for e-cigarettes. This includes a public consultation, which closed on the 19 March, which allowed the opportunity for people to share their opinions on the regulations. The Government will publish its response later this year.”

The Labour MP continued with the pressure on the government by asking the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care if he would ensure that the Department would adopt an evidence-based approach for the Tobacco and Related Product Regulations review.

Jo Churchill replied: “The Government is conducting a Post Implementation Review of both the Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations 2015 and the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 to assess if the regulations have met their objectives. As part of this review a public consultation is being conducted, which was open until 19 March 2021. The responses, alongside other available evidence, will be fully analysed and used to inform the Post Implementation Review.”

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