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Another day and more answers to MP questions about vaping and tobacco harm reduction

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Sensors in school toilets, seizures of illegal imports, secondhand dangers and worries about children dominate in today’s coverage from the House of Commons, where politicians ask about the Government’s policies and plans for vaping and tobacco harm reduction. In this piece, we hear from Neil Hudson, Bambos Charalambous and Paul Girvan.

Penrith and The Border’s Conservative MP, Neil Hudson asked the Secretary of State for Education whether the Department has made an estimate of the number of schools using vaping sensors in school buildings.

Minister of State for Education, Nick Gibb told him: “The Department has not assessed the number of vaping sensors in schools. Schools are required by law to have a behaviour policy that sets out what is expected of all pupils, including which items are banned from school premises.

“My right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, recently announced that the Government will be ensuring pupils are made aware of the health risks of vaping. The Department will be including this important topic in relationships, sex and health education lessons (RSHE), as part of the review of the RSHE statutory guidance, to further discourage pupils from taking up vaping.”

Then Neil Hudson asked the Home Secretary whether the Home Office has made an estimate of the amount of illegal vaping products seized at UK ports.

Speaking in his capacity as the Minister for Immigration, Robert Jenrick replied: “Border Force does not hold the data in an easily accessible format.

The response is slightly off given that Border Force does not hold any data in relation to this on its transparency returns - GOV.UK.

Bambos Charalambous, the Shadow Minister for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs asked the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care whether an assessment has been made on any potential health impact of second-hand vape in public spaces.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care, Neil O'Brien replied: “The Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, previously Public Health England (PHE), has published detailed evidence updates on vapes (e-cigarettes) since 2014.

“The last report, published in 2022, assesses the impact on public health of second-hand vapour from e-cigarettes in public spaces. This can be seen in Chapter 7 ‘Biomarkers of Secondhand exposure’.

“In summary, there is limited published evidence of harm to bystanders from exposure to e-cigarette vapour and the available evidence indicates that any risk of harm is extremely low, especially when compared with tobacco smoke. PHE also published advice on the use of vapes in public places and workplaces in 2016.”

DUP Education spokesperson Paul Girvan asked the Health Secretary if proposals will be brought forward “to tackle the promotion and marketing of vaping to children.”

Neil O'Brien told him: “The Government recently ran a call for evidence on youth vaping that closed on the 6 June 2023. This included a theme covering the marketing and promotion of vapes. We are now reviewing the evidence and will respond later this year.”

Girvan followed up by asking if the vape “enforcement squad” will operate across the whole of the United Kingdom.

O'Brien said the enforcement team would only be operating across England.

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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