Politics & Campaigns


Parliament had the temerity to ask a lot of questions about vaping while POTV’s news department was away on holiday

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Luke Pollard wanted steps taken to prevent ‘buy vapes now pay later’ schemes from operating. Graham Brady wanted regulation enforcement strengthened. Royston Smith was concerned about non-MHRA compliant products reaching the market and the testing of those products. Samantha Dixon was thinking about the children. None of them appear to know how a search engine works.

Luke Pollard, the Shadow Defence Minister wants the Secretary of State for Health to wage war on buy now, pay later vapes.

Neil O'Brien, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care, told him: “There are no current Government plans to stop the sale of vapes and their devices purchased on a buy now, pay later basis. However, we will keep this under review”.

1922 Committee chair Graham Brady asked the Secretary of State if his department plans on strengthening regulatory enforcement and stopping the import of non-compliant vaping products.

Neil O'Brien responded: “In order to support proposals set out in the Khan review, it is essential that consumers have access to high quality products while reducing the supply of non-compliant and smuggled goods entering through illegal channels.

“The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is currently working closely with a number of regulatory and enforcement agencies, providing product and manufacturer information to assist in both strategic planning and direct enforcement of the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016.

“In addition to this, the MHRA is supporting the work of regulatory stakeholders across a range of related vaping and general legislation for the purposes of compliance and law enforcement.”

That’s right, it was a rather long-winded way of saying ‘no’.

Royston Smith, Southampton’s Conservative MP, asked the Secretary of State whether it is the policy of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to allow e-cigarette manufacturers to bring e-cigarette products to the UK market using a pre-existing notification that was used for a non-compliant e-cigarette product that was removed from sale.

He also wanted to know if e-cigarette products from any manufacturer who has been found to breach the regulations need pre-market testing.

Neil O'Brien told him: “It is not the policy of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to allow submitters to modify an existing publication in order to bypass the requirements of notification.

“Therefore, MHRA policy does not permit e-cigarette manufacturers to bring e-cigarette products to the United Kingdom market using a pre-existing notification that was used for a non-compliant e-cigarette product that was removed from sale.

“The notification obligations … require producers of E-cigarette products to carry out testing of their products prior to the submission of their notification.

“The MHRA is required to publish the product on its website.”

Labour’s Samantha Dixon asked what steps the Department of Health is taking to reduce the number of young people recreationally vaping and how it is preventing young people from progressing on to smoking.

Samantha must have missed all of the annual ASH/CRUK updates on the matter.

O'Brien repeated the obvious: “The Government is clear that vaping should only be used to help people quit smoking. Vapes should not be used by people under 18 years old or non-smokers. Vapes are not risk-free, nicotine is highly addictive and can be harmful, and there are unanswered questions on the effects of longer-term use.”

He continued: “We have regulations in place to discourage underage vaping. The law protects children through restricting sales of vapes to over-18-year-olds only, limiting nicotine content, refill bottle and tank sizes, labelling requirements and through advertising restrictions.”

It is not clear how limiting the sizes of bottles, tanks or stipulating what goes on a label stops teens from vaping, O'Brien didn’t expand.

He did point out the key fact that Dixon could have discovered for herself had she bothered to use Google: “There is currently no evidence that young people move from using vapes to tobacco products, including cigarettes.”

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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