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

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Questions and answers about vaping and tobacco harm reduction from the House of Commons stretches across two articles this week. This first one sees Seema Malhotra concerned about the safety and legitimacy of vaping products. Matthew Offord was concerned about the enforcement of standards and regulatory compliance. Meanwhile, Ranil Jayawardena wanted the Moon on a stick.

Seema Malhotra, the Shadow Minister for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, asked the Secretary of State for Business and Trade whether the Department and the Office for Product Safety and Standards, “plan to take steps to assess the safety of vaping and what steps [the Minister] plans to take to ensure the safety of vaping products.”

Kevin Hollinrake in his position as the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State replied: “All vaping products need to comply with existing product safety regulation. Such products must be both safe and compliant with any restrictions relating to their sale. For example, this includes product safety regulations that apply to the batteries and chargers.

“The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is responsible for implementing a number of provisions under Part 6 of the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016, with the enforcement of these provisions predominantly delivered by Trading Standards. The regulations ensure minimum standards for the safety and quality of all e-cigarettes and refill containers.”

Seema Malhotra followed up by asking what discussions the Department for Business and Trade has had with Trading Standards and the Office for Product Safety about Elf Bar supplying disposable vapes to supermarkets containing an illegal amount of e-liquid.

Kevin Hollinrake stated: “The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) is part of the Department of Business and Trade. OPSS has discussed Elf Bar e-cigarettes with Trading Standards as part of ongoing discussions regarding the compliance of vape devices with product safety regulations. There is also ongoing work by Trading Standards and the MHRA to continue to raise awareness of non-compliant devices and, where appropriate, take enforcement action including withdrawing them from the point of sale.”

Tory Matthew Offord asked the Secretary of State whether the OPSS has taken enforcement action against any company putting illicit disposable vapes into stores at any time over the last five years.

Hollinrake said the Office for Product Safety and Standards “has not taken enforcement action in relation to disposable vapes in the last five years.”

Offord followed up with a query about whether guidance is going to be issued to manufacturers about their responsibilities to comply with the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations.

The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State didn’t really answer so we’ll simply cover the gist of what he almost said: “No mate, it’s all on the website so they need to do a Google and find it for themselves.”

Ranil Jayawardena, the Conservative MP for North East Hampshire, has asked some really daft questions recently. This time, Jayawardena asked if the Home Secretary will be getting her Department to estimate the number of illegal disposables imported over the last 12 months.

Robert Jenrick, the Minister for Immigration, that no estimate has been made – which isn’t the answer to the question.

We’ll do an estimate for you, Ranil Jayawardena. The estimated number of illegal disposables imported to the UK over the last 12 months was six. Or six hundred. Or maybe six hundred million. That’s the thing with illegal imports, nobody is checking them at customs and recording the number on a check sheet. Maybe they should do that thing.

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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