Tulip Siddiq, the Shadow Treasury Minister asked the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care what steps are being taken to prevent the sale of e-cigarette products to minors.
Maggie Throup, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care, told Siddiq: “It is illegal to sell e-cigarettes to those aged under 18 years old and there are restrictions in place on advertising, limits on nicotine strength, labelling and safety requirements. The Department provides funding to local authorities in support of local trading standards activity and the enforcement of these regulations. In addition, the Department provides advice to small businesses, including advice on compliance with age of sale requirements.”
Sam Tarry, the Labour Shadow Minister for Transport asked the Secretary of State what plans are in place to review the legislation on no smoking zones to include vaping. He also voiced his unease with the risk of second-hand vaping and asked if there was a review into it.
Maggie Throup replied: “There are no current plans to review this legislation to include vaping. The provision of separate vaping areas is a matter for individual organisations. While there is clear evidence of harm from tar and carbon monoxide from cigarette smoke, there is no comparable evidence of harm from second-hand exposure to vaping.”
Romford’s Andrew Rosindell wondered if the Secretary of State will direct the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities’ next annual review of vaping and tobacco harm reduction in England to focus on the potential role of tobacco-free oral nicotine pouches in helping smokers to quit.
Rosindell also asked why the Committee on Toxicity’s review of the toxicological risks associated with oral nicotine pouches was delayed until mid-2022.
Maggie Throup told him: “The next Office for Health Improvement and Disparities’ Vaping in England annual report will include data on the use of nicotine pouches amongst adults and youth. It will not, however, focus on the potential role of nicotine pouches in smoking cessation.
“Plans for reviewing the wider evidence base for nicotine pouches are being considered.
The Committee on Toxicity of Food, Consumer Products and the Environment is considering tobacco-free oral nicotine pouches and the review is in progress. An initial discussion paper was presented to the Committee members in May 2021 and further information was requested. Chemical incident response priorities for the Secretariat have delayed further discussion, but it is estimated that this work will conclude in mid-2022.”
The Alba Party’s Kenny MacAskill asked what assessment has been made of the adequacy of the British Standard Institution’s Standard 8877 on tobacco-free oral nicotine pouches, whether there are plans for the Post-Implementation Review of the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 to recommend establishing a regulatory framework for tobacco-free oral nicotine pouches, and if steps will be taken to ensure that tobacco-free oral nicotine pouches are regulated appropriately.
Maggie Throup responded: “No assessment has been made. The Post Implementation Review into the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 is expected to be published shortly and will set out if the legislation is achieving its aims. We are reviewing the regulatory framework for tobacco-free oral nicotine pouches.”
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Health and Social Care, Daisy Cooper asked if the Department of Health and Social Care has considered the recommendation from the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) to regulate the branding and packaging of e-cigarette products to ensure that they do not inadvertently appeal to non-smokers or young people.
Maggie Throup replied that it was currently assessing the regulations on the branding and packaging of e-cigarette products to ensure that they do not inadvertently appeal to non-smokers or young people.
“A range of regulatory proposals, including related to e-cigarettes, are being considering as part of the Independent Review on Tobacco Control and for the Tobacco Control Plan.”
Finally, the SNP’s Martyn Day wondered why the Secretary of State has made no formal assessment of the adverse health risks of snus.
Maggie Throup told Day: “The Department has not undertaken its own formal review of snus as it is banned in the United Kingdom and we have no plans to introduce additional tobacco products to the market.”