Politics & Campaigns

Parliament – The House of Commons

Questions and answers about vaping and tobacco harm reduction from MPs in the House of Commons

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Tory Ben Everitt wants the law changed so that companies can be punished for breaking the law. Dean Russell let everyone know that he hasn’t bothered reading the last ecig evidence update published by his own party. Matthew Offord repeated his concerns regarding companies not complying with waste electrical and electronic equipment producer scheme regulations, and Andrew Gwynne asked (yet again) for the Tobacco Control Plan to be published.

The Conservative MP for Milton Keynes North, Ben Everitt said he was aware of “recent reports on e-cigarette manufacturers overfilling e-cigarette devices”, and asked the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care 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.”

It has been noted by many observers that the biggest problem is enforcement – not the size of the fine – as local authorities have been starved of funding by central government for over a decade.

Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care Neil O'Brien told him that there are no plans to increase the penalties beyond those set out in regulation 51 of the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016.

Fellow Tory, Dean Russell, the Chair on the Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works of Art, asked the Secretary of State what assessment has been made of the potential for various ailments to arise from vaping. Things like cancer and stuff, you know, all the diseases they talk about in the annual evidence updates released by the government every year since 2015.

Minister of State for the Department of Health and Social Care, Helen Whately reminded him that the government has published this series of evidence reviews.

It found that in the short and medium term,” she said, “vaping poses a small fraction of the risks of smoking, but that vaping is not risk-free, particularly for people who have never smoked.

“In summary, the 2022 review concluded that switching to vaping is likely to slow down respiratory disease development, compared to smoking. Using vaping products leads to a substantial reduction in biomarkers of toxicant exposure affecting cardiovascular disease, and vaping generally leads to lower exposure to many of the carcinogens responsible for the considerable health risks of smoking associated with cancer.”

Planet of the Vapes intends to conduct a fundraising activity so that we can send Dean Russell MP on a course where he can learn to use Google.

Hendon Conservative Matthew Offord asked the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, again, if she will make an assessment of the adequacy of the compliance of companies selling disposable e-cigarettes with the waste electrical and electronic equipment producer scheme.

Under-Secretary of State Rebecca Pow responded: “The Environment Agency has the responsibility in England for compliance monitoring registered producers under the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) regulations and for investigating and enforcing against producers that do not register. This work is prioritised using a risk-based approach and in line with the Environment Agency’s Enforcement and Sanctions Policy. Defra and the Environment Agency liaise closely on the operation of the current WEEE regulations and Defra will consider that feedback in our forthcoming consultation on the WEEE regulations later this year.”

In case you fell asleep during that response – no, the government isn’t going to do anything differently.

Labour’s Andrew Gwynne asked the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care a question that has been directed at the Department multiple times.

Where, dear Conservative Party, is the long absent Tobacco Control Plan?

That’s not what he said, I’m paraphrasing because I’m getting particularly bored of hearing the question for over a year.

Neil O'Brien, the current Minister in charge of not answering the question, repeated the standard non answer: “The Government remains committed to its bold ambition to be Smokefree by 2030. We are still considering the recommendations made in ‘The Khan review: making smoking obsolete' and further information will be available in due course.”

Public health experts including Action on Smoking and Health and Cancer Research UK have been imploring the government to get on and publish the Tobacco Control Plan.

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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