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Questions and answers from the Houses of Parliament regarding vaping and tobacco harm reduction

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In the latest instalment of questions and answers from the Houses of Parliament regarding vaping and tobacco harm reduction, Lord Porter questioned the adequacy of current legislation. Adam Afriyie asked about Elf Bar and the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations in the House of Commons. Rachael Maskell inquired after the continually absent Tobacco Control Plan and followed with a number of other questions to the Department for Health and Social Care.

Conservative Lord Porter of Spalding asked what assessment the Government has made of the adequacy of Trading Standards' powers to regulate the sale of vaping products and tackle illicit vaping tobacco products.

Lord Johnson of Lainston, the Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade), told him: “Vapes are regulated through the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 and the Nicotine Inhaling Products (Age of Sale and Proxy Purchasing) Regulations 2015. The Government continues to work with enforcement agencies to ensure these regulations are enforced in England.

“Suspected illegal activity should be reported in the first instance to the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133 (www.citizensadvice.org.uk/).”

Conservative Adam Afriyie asked the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he has held discussions with Trading Standards Authorities on e-cigarette manufacturer Elf Bar overfilling e-cigarette devices and if he will bring forward changes to the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 to increase penalties on manufacturers found to be in breach of those regulations.

The Minister for Primary Care and Public Health, Neil O'Brien told him: “The Department was recently made aware of possible breaches of our vaping (e-cigarettes) regulations related to disposable vapes exceeding the restrictions on tank capacity. We are working closely with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to investigate the matter further and we have discussed this with Trading Standards Authorities.”

Adding, “There are no current plans to increase the penalties beyond those set out in regulation 51 of the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016.”

Labour’s Rachael Maskell asked why an updated Tobacco Control Plan still hasn’t been published.

Neil O'Brien said: “We are still considering the recommendations made in ‘The Khan review: making smoking obsolete' and further information will be available in due course.”

It might be quicker for the Department to print that reply on cards and just thrown them into the chamber every week.

Maskell then asked if the Secretary of State will undertake longitudinal research into the cumulative impact of vaping, whether research has already been conducted looking at the potential impact of vaping on health, and if any assessment has been made of the safety of vaping liquids including the potential effects of inhalation.

Maskell supported Tory Dr Johnson’s 10-Minute Bill to ban disposables last week.

Neil O'Brien responded: “The Department has commissioned and published a series of evidence reviews on vaping, with the final report of the series published in September 2022. The latest report assessed the potential effects of the inhalation of vaping liquids including their health impact along with poisonings, fire and explosion risks. This research found that in the short and medium term, vaping poses a small fraction of the risks of smoking, but that vaping is not risk-free, particularly for people who have never smoked. The latest evidence review is available at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/nicotine-vaping-in-england-2022-evidence-update

“There are no current plans for the Government to undertake longitudinal research, but we will continue to monitor independent research.”

Finally, Rachael Maskell asked whether there are plans to take steps to prevent non-smokers from starting to use vapes.

Neil O'Brien replied: “The Government is clear that vaping should only be used to help people quit smoking and we will continue to take steps to prevent children and non-smokers from starting.

“We have a strongly regulated vape market in the United Kingdom to prevent non-smokers from using vapes. This includes restricting sales to over 18 years old only, limiting nicotine content, refill bottle and tank sizes, labelling requirements and thorough advertising restrictions.”

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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