Politics & Campaigns

Health Minister Worryingly Out of Touch

Andrea Leadsom, the government’s new Health Minister, is worryingly out of touch according to the UK Vaping Industry Association’s Director General

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Andrea Leadsom, the government’s new Health Minister, is worryingly out of touch according to the UK Vaping Industry Association’s Director General. Just a week ago, the Northamptonshire South MP told the House of Commons that children’s teeth are “about four-and-half years old” by the time they are three, now she’s telling the country that nicotine kills.

The Government is currently considering legislation that might restrict certain vapes. Andrea Leadsom cosponsored a Bill to ban disposable vapes last year. On Thursday 11th January, the House of Commons debated a “Smokefree Future”.

Conservative Bob Blackman began by saying: “It is a pleasure to see the new Minister in her place; I thank her for attending a function that we held soon after she was appointed.”

He continued by urging “the Government to prevent e-cigarettes from being sold at pocket-money prices and to curtail advertising and promotion of vaping, particularly in shops, where most under-age vapers access e-cigarettes. We know that the rise in youth vaping since 2021 has been driven largely by the availability and marketing of cheap single-use vapes, and anecdotal evidence points to the fact that many young people believe that vaping is perfectly safe because the Government are encouraging people to give up smoking and take up vaping. Of course, that is a false conclusion, because it gets people addicted to nicotine and possibly leads on to cigarette use later in life.

“There is clearly a need to address the affordability of vapes for young people while ensuring that they continue to be a cheaper option than smoking for adults who want to quit. Given the effectiveness of vapes as a smoking cessation aid, it is essential that any regulation takes a measured approach and ensures that vapes are still accessible to adult smokers. Can the Minister confirm when the consultation response will be published and when we will see the legislation laid before Parliament?”

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care responded: “I want my legacy as Public Health Minister to be weighed and measured by everything we have done to protect the vulnerable in society. Critical to that, of course, is keeping our children safe. Like many others, I have been appalled in recent years to see the number of children vaping treble. It is estimated that no fewer than one in five children have now used a vape.”

The ex-40 a day smoker then added: “Unlike other consumer products, there is no safe level of nicotine consumption; it is a product that kills up to two thirds of its long-term users and causes 70% of lung cancer deaths.”

Andrea Leadsom laid into vape flavours, point-of-sale displays and packaging before complaining about the environmental impact of disposables.

Commenting on the debate, John Dunne, UK Vaping Industry Association Director General, said: “If Health Minister Andrea Leadsom really believes that ‘nicotine consumption…kills up to two thirds of its long-term users and causes 70% of lung cancer deaths’, as she said yesterday, then she completely misunderstands the public health potential of vapes to save lives.

“It is cigarettes that kill over 200 people every day in the UK, not vapes. There is no evidence of nicotine vapes killing anyone in the UK, as Cancer Research UK have concluded ‘nicotine does not cause cancer’.

“The evidence is clear, vaping is at least 95% less harmful than cigarettes and is proven to be, by some margin, the most effective way for smokers to quit. It’s a simple equation – the more the Government restrict access to vapes for adult smokers and those who’ve quit through vaping, the more smokers there will be.”

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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