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Vape and tobacco harm reduction news from Parliament

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Vape and tobacco harm reduction discussions are taking place thick and fast in the Houses of Parliament. David Jones MP asked about age verification, Navendu Mishra MP was thinking about children, and Mary Glindon MP wondered where the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations were. Andrew Lewer MP wanted to know what happened at the WHO conference while Adam Afriyie MP and Martyn Day MP spoke about snus.

Clwyd West’s David Jones wanted to know what steps the Department of Health and Social Care are taking to ensure small convenience stores operate strict age verification standards for the sale of e-cigarettes. He also wondered if an assessment has been made of the effectiveness of the enforcement measures as a deterrent.

Parliamentary Under-Secretary Maggie Throup told him the Department couldn’t provide an answer. One is apparently being prepared and will be provided as soon as it is available – but given the delay to the tobacco regulations it may be some time.

Opposition Whip Navendu Mishra asked what assessment has been made of trends in the number of under-18s taking up regular vaping and what steps are being taken to prevent it.

Maggie Throup replied: “The Government is clear that we only support the use of e-cigarettes as a tool for smokers to quit smoking. We will continue to strongly discourage non-smokers and children from using them.

“Regular use of e-cigarettes amongst children remains low, at around 2% of 11 to 15 year olds in 2018. This is as a result of our strong regulatory framework including restrictions on advertising, packaging and labelling, preventing sales to under 18 year olds and limits on tank sizes and nicotine content.”

There is no evidence that current nicotine content and tank sizes deters youth-only use, there is evidence that it prevents smokers from switching to vaping.

North Tyneside’s Mary Glindon asked whether the review of the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 will be published before the new Tobacco Control Plan, whether any recommendation identified from review will be considered when developing the plan, and when the Department plans to publish the review.

Maggie Throup answered: “The Department’s response to the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 post implementation review is expected to be published shortly. The review’s report has been submitted to the Regulatory Policy Committee and we await the conclusion of its process. The findings and recommendations from the report will be considered during the development of the new Tobacco Control Plan.”

The answer “to be published shortly” has been given since summer 2021.

Northampton South’s Andrew Lewer wondered if the Department will ever publish the minutes from the ninth Conference of the Parties (COP9) of the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Particularly, he wanted to find out what contribution the UK delegation made.

Maggie Throup said: “All decisions and documentation from the ninth Conference of the Parties, including details of the United Kingdom’s delegation and a video recording is available.”

The link she provided doesn’t hold the minutes from COP9 or any details about the UK delegation’s contribution.

Adam Afriyie asked if the Department is aware of the statement by Action on Smoking and Health on 7 September 2004 on the legal framework for smoking tobacco and snus in the UK and if it will be making a statement.

Throup told him they are aware of the ASH’s statement but made no pledge to comment.

Linlithgow and East Falkirk’s Martyn Day if the Department will publish an assessment on the risks of adverse health outcomes caused by snus and wanted it to detail the mortality rate per 100,000 users of Swedish snus.

Maggie Throup stated: “There is no available data related to the mortality rate as a result of the use of cigarettes or for Swedish snus. The Department has made no formal assessment of adverse health outcomes caused by snus. However, there is evidence of increased all-cause mortality among snus users although this is lower than for tobacco smokers. Snus use also has cardiovascular risks.

We are exploring a range of proposals to reduce the harms caused by smoking as part of the forthcoming tobacco control plan. This will not include proposals to introduce additional tobacco products into the market, such as oral tobacco.”

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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