Windsor’s Adam Afriyie asked the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care if there will be a comparative assessment of the scientific evidence on the impact on health of the use of smokeless tobacco products like snus compared to smoking as part of the Tobacco and Related Products review.
Jo Churchill, then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, told him: “A comparative assessment of the scientific evidence on the impact on health of the use of smokeless tobacco products, such as Swedish snus, and smoking, is out of the scope of the Post Implementation Review (PIR) of the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016. The purpose of the PIR is to provide feedback on the effectiveness of the legislation in achieving its objectives along with any unintended consequences that may have occurred.”
St Albans’ Daisy Cooper wondered what plans the Secretary of State has to implement the recommendation from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health to make the route to medicinal licensing fit-for-purpose and allow e-cigarettes to be authorised for NHS prescription.
Jo Churchill responded: “The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is responsible for the regulation of medicines in the United Kingdom. They continue to provide scientific and regulatory advice to applicants who wish to licence an e-cigarette medicinal product. The MHRA is in the process of updating their guidance which will further support potential applicants to meet the standards of quality and efficacy expected. The guidance will be published by the end of August.”
Rugby’s Mark Pawsey, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Vaping, asked the Secretary of State if departmental officials have spoken to vapers ahead of the Ninth session of the Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
Freshly appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care Maggie Throup replied: “The Department has not consulted consumers on vaping or other reduced-risk products ahead of the Ninth session of the Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. However, the Department meets with the Independent British Vape Trade Association to discuss a range of policy and regulatory issues.”
Maggie Throup needs to appreciate that although some of our priorities coincide, trade organisations hold different objectives and desired outcomes to vapers.
Pawsey followed up with a question about plans for tackling misinformation on the harms of vaping.
Throup responded: “In 2022, the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) will publish an independent review of the up-to-date evidence on the safety of vaping products. The review will include information about the relative harm of smoking and vaping.
“New guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), to be published in November 2021, will make recommendations about using electronic cigarettes to help people stop smoking.
“The OHID will use the upcoming NICE guidance publication as an opportunity to communicate with the public and healthcare professionals about the relative harms of using nicotine containing products and smoking to support an informed choice.”
Clwyd West’s David Jones asked the Secretary of State if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of creating a separate regulatory category for non-combustible nicotine products.
Maggie Throup informed him that there are no current plans to make such an assessment.
The DUP’s Jim Shannon wanted to know what conversations have been had about “the prevalence of vape use by children” and the “potential health effects of that use including prolonged nose bleeds, chest pains and dizzy spells.”
Shannon gave no indication where he has sourced such fears.
Throup told him that no such discussions have taken place.
Finally, Workington’s Mark Jenkinson asked the Secretary of State whether statistics from the Office of National Statistics bulletin (Adults smoking habits in the UK) will be incorporated into the Tobacco Control Plan for England.
Maggie Throup said: “The Tobacco Control Plan will utilise data from the Office for National Statistics' bulletin when it is published later this year.”