Politics & Campaigns


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

Share on:
Questions and answers about vaping and tobacco harm reduction from the House of Commons stretches across two articles this week. Our second piece features Lib Dem Sarah Olney, Tory Julian Knight and his ridiculously long list of titles, Conservative Ben Everitt, and Royston Smith – also a Tory.

Sarah Olney is the Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson. She wants more regulation to cover the use of disposables by under 18s. Clearly, making it illegal to sell the products to them isn’t enough – maybe she wants the kids forced to stand on one leg for hours on end? Maybe she wants them to have to sit in a bath of custard? We don’t know, she didn’t say.

Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care Neil O'Brien just knows that there are already regulations in place to discourage underage vaping. He shared that information with her.

The law protects children through restricting sales of vapes to over 18 years olds only,” O'Brien said, “limiting nicotine content, refill bottle and tank sizes, labelling requirements and through advertising restrictions.

However, given the changing circumstances surrounding vapes, the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities has launched a call for evidence to identify opportunities to reduce the number of children accessing and using vape products. The call for evidence will close on Tuesday 6 June. Following this, the Government will consider a range of options based on the evidence provided, including potential changes to vaping regulations.”

By this, O'Brien is alluding to the possibility of banning certain flavours, raising the tax rate applied to vape products, or outright banning all disposables.

Enter Julian Knight. Are you ready for his full title? He is the Chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, and the Chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Sub-committee on Online Harms and Disinformation. Reading that takes longer than his question – he wanted to know how the government is stopping underage sales.

You have to take your hat off to Neil O'Brien considering the amount of repetition his job entails.

We have regulations in place to discourage underage vaping,” he reiterated.

The Government provides funding to local authorities in support of local trading standards activity. On 11 April 2023, we announced £3 million of funding for a new national illicit vaping enforcement unit to tackle illicit and underage vape sales across the country.”

Milton Keynes North’s Ben Everitt asked the Home Secretary what conversations Border Force has had with Trading Standards on how to stamp out illegal e-cigarette importation.

Minister for Immigration, Robert Jenrick said: “Building on an already close relationship, Border Force is working with Trading Standards at a number of locations around the UK, agreeing processes and ways of working that help ensure illegal e-cigarettes are prevented from entering the UK.”

Royston Smith wanted to know about the illicit vapes enforcement squad. How, when, where, who – everything except whether they’d get cool uniforms and clipboards.

Neil O'Brien replied: “The Office for Health Improvement and Disparities within the Department is currently designing the scope and delivery mechanism for the new illicit vaping enforcement squad. We are working closely with a range of organisations including Trading Standards, the Office of Product and Safety Standards, Border Force and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, who will help deliver the programme over the next two years. We will provide further details, including on timelines, monitoring and reporting, in due course.”

So, nothing about snazzy outfits.

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
View Articles

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.

Join the discussion


Parliament Fears Two

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs faced questions from a Conservative MP and, oddly, a member of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Vaping News

Harm Reduction For The Rich

The United Kingdom risks becoming a harm reduction country only for the wealthy, according to Michael Landl of the World Vapers’ Alliance

Vaping News

Sacrificing Health For 2p Cut

Tory Government alienates vaping voters with its mission to cut tax by an unaffordable 2p to attract voters by placing a tax on vape products in the forthcoming budget

Vaping News

Scotland Announces Single-Use Vape Action

A ban on the sale and supply of single-use vapes in Scotland is due to come into effect on 1 April 2025, under proposed legislation published today