Posted 20th October 2023 by Dave Cross
With the push to limit vaping freedoms well underway, questions are still being asked in Parliament. Helen Hayes was interested in packaging processes, Kirsten Oswald was all about the numbers and Margaret Greenwood worried about costs to the NHS. Meanwhile, at the Labour Party Conference, Wes Streeting offered words of encouragement to vapers and the industry – but, in Wales, Mark Drakeford advertised his ignorance by claiming there isn’t good evidence to show vapes help smokers quit and wants prescription-only vapes.

Labour’s Helen Hayes asked the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care what assessment he has made of the potential merits of streamlining the process for making packaging changes on licensed smoking cessation products.

Minister for Public Health Neil O’Brien confirmed the Government’s lack of desire to do anything requiring strategic planning and told her that no assessment has been made.

The SNP’s Kirsten Oswald asked the Secretary of State if an estimate has been made of the number of people under 18 who vape.

O’Brien pointed her to the 'NHS Smoking, Drinking and Drug use among Young People in England' publication, which shows 9% of 11–15-year-olds currently vape. This contrasts with the ASH review showing 7.6% of 11–17-year-olds currently vaping.

Labour’s Margaret Greenwood asked if the Department for Health is taking steps to estimate the long-term cost to the NHS of vaping.

Cue Vapor

Neil O’Brien said: “We have no current plans to make a long-term estimate. Evidence shows that whilst not risk-free, vaping is substantially less harmful than smoking. It is estimated that smoking costs the National Health Service £2.4 billion a year. Helping smokers quit smoking including using tools such as vaping is likely to save the NHS financial costs from the smoking burden.”

Streeting speaks at conference

Wes Streeting told the Labour Party Conference at a Policy Exchange event that, “vaping has a role to play” for those looking to give up cigarettes.

He went on to speak about implementing financial penalties and/or a licensing scheme, as advocated for by the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA).

He concluded by saying that he, “didn’t want heavy-handed regulation” and that it was up to the industry to sort itself out first, before proposing government interventions.

During the event, Streeting was asked by John Dunne, UKVIA, whether he was willing to sit down and discuss fines and licensing for retailers and closing loopholes to protect children – he accepted the challenge, saying that may be he had been ‘too hard on the industry’.

The Electronic Cigarette Company

Drakeford goes bananas in Wales

Mr Drakeford told the Senedd: "In Australia for example the only way you can get an e-cigarette is by prescription. You can't buy them in shops. Only through a medical prescription as part of a supervised attempt to give up smoking are they available. And do you know, I would be attracted to that idea myself."

Drakeford went on to cement the idea that he is an ideological fool by saying there is "insufficient evidence" linking vapes to smoking cessation – despite every British public health body accepting that there is.

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, salad destroyer and live culture convert.