Politics & Campaigns

Carry On Questioning with Racheal Maskell

Labour’s Rachael Maskell has inundated Conservative Ministers with a plethora of questions about vaping and tobacco harm reduction

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Labour’s Rachael Maskell has inundated Conservative Ministers with a plethora of questions about vaping and tobacco harm reduction. In fact, so many questions that we’ve had to split them into two huge articles. Today’s sees her firing queries at the Departments for Environment, Education, Treasury, Culture, Media and Sport, and the Home Office.

The Labour/Co-operative MP demanded of the Secretary of State for Education:

  • What steps are being taken to help schools and colleges address vaping by their pupils?
  • What steps are being taken to encourage education about vaping in schools?
  • What steps are being taken to provide support to place vape detectors in school premises?
  • What discussions have been held with Cabinet colleagues about vaping in schools? And,
  • What steps are being taken to encourage schools to record and monitor vaping by their pupils?

Nick Gibb, the Minister of State for Education told her: “The Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) statutory guidance states that, in both primary and secondary school, pupils should be taught the facts regarding legal and illegal harmful substances and associated risks, including smoking, alcohol use, and drug taking.

“To support schools to deliver this content effectively, the Department published a suite of teacher training modules, including content on drugs, alcohol and tobacco, which makes specific reference to e-cigarettes.

“In addition, content on drugs, alcohol and tobacco is taught in compulsory health education. This supplements drug education which is part of the national curriculum for science in Key Stages 2 and 3.

“Schools are required by law to have a behaviour policy that sets out what is expected of all pupils, including what items are banned from school premises. This should be communicated to all pupils, parents and school staff.

“Schools have the autonomy to decide which items should be banned from their premises, and these can include vapes. Items banned by the school can be searched for as outlined in the Department’s Searching, screening and confiscation guidance.

“The Department believes that this will help head teachers to manage vaping on school premises and to inform pupils on the risks, with a view to reducing the numbers of pupils who are currently vaping, or who might be tempted to try it in the future.

“The Department trusts head teachers to develop tailored behaviour policies which reflect their school’s individual contexts and needs and to decide the best methods to enforce these policies.”

The super questioner from York Central then turned to the Home Department and what steps are being taken to help stop the illicit import of vapes.

Chris Philp responded: “Border Force resource is deployed not just to carry out essential checks at the border but also to detect harmful goods and safeguard vulnerable and exploited individuals. There is not a specific number of mandated checks for Border Force officers to conduct every day. Most checks will be conducted according to risk levels or intelligence.”

Rachael Maskell then turned the guns on the Chancellor of the Exchequer, asking what discussions have been held with the Department for Health and Social Care on the deterrent effect of the excise duty on vaping products.

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen said the Government has no plans to place an excise duty on vapes.

Then it was time for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to be asked if it will bring forward legislative proposals to ban vaping advertising.

John Whittingdale, The Minister of State, confirmed that there are no plans to legislate to ban the advertising of vaping products.

Finally, Maskell questioned the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. She wondered what steps are being taken to ensure the safe disposal of vapes.

Under-secretary Rebecca Pow told her: “In the UK, the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations require producers of electricals, including vapes, to finance the collection and treatment of these products when they become waste.

“We will consult on reviewing these regulations and will explore measures to drive up higher levels of collections of electricals, including vapes, later this year.

“We are also working with the regulators who enforce these regulations to ensure vape producers and distributors are compliant with their existing obligations under the WEEE Regulations, including the requirement for retailers to offer take back in store of unwanted electrical equipment, including vapes.”

Then Maskell asked if the Department will educate the public about the environmental impact of discarded disposable vapes.

Pow told her: “We are aware that the use of vaping devices has increased substantially in recent years and we are considering the implications of this trend on the environment.”

Finally, Rachael Maskell suggested a polluter pays principle should be applied to vaping products.

Pow stated: “We are working with the regulators who enforce [the WEEE] regulations to ensure that these businesses are compliant with their existing obligations. We will also consult on reviewing these regulations and explore measures aimed at increasing levels of collections of electricals, including vapes, for recycling.”

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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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