Andrew Rosindell, Conservative MP for Romford, asked the Minister for the Cabinet Office what contribution the vaping industry has made to the economy. Chloe Smith was unable to provide a figure but has referred the matter to the UK Statistics Authority and asked them to deliver the figures.
Jim Shannon, DUP MP for Strangford, continues to fight for clarification on tobacco harm reduction matters. He has been prolific in his questioning over the last few months, and has asked Steve Brine if his Department has collated on effect on people's health of the use of snus.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care responded: “No evidence has been collated by the Department as snus is banned under the European Union’s Tobacco Products Directive as an oral tobacco product. The Commission has however set out the evidence underpinning the ban.”
This ‘evidence’ lies at odds with the facts supplied recently by experts and the New Nicotine Alliance.
Shannon then asked Brine for an assessment of the effectiveness of the regulation of non-nicotine liquid for vape products and the effect on public health of shortfills and nicotine shots. He also wanted to know if nicotine shots and shortfills are regulated under UK and EU law.
Brine’s response hinted at future regulation for shortfill liquids: “Nicotine shots are regulated under the Tobacco and Related Products Regulation 2016 (TRPR) as they are a nicotine containing product. As shortfills do not contain nicotine when sold they are not regulated under the TRPR, but are covered by General Product Safety Regulations. The Government is committed to conduct a review of the TRPR at a later date.”
Shannon was then curious as to the effectiveness of current regulations on the growth of the vaping sector and product manufacturing standards for consumers after the UK leaves the EU. Brine said nothing had been done on this matter since the impact assessment of the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) in 2016.
Next, Shannon inquired as to how policies might change due to evidence from Public Health England and Cancer Research UK, “that one of the most effective ways to stop smoking is to use vape products.”
Brine was unequivocal in his reply: “The evidence is increasingly clear that vaping is significantly less harmful to health than smoking tobacco and can be particularly useful in supporting smokers to quit. E-cigarettes have contributed to tens of thousands of additional quitters in England.”
Shannon returned to the subject of snus, and wondered if the government could look at the potential merits of lifting the ban on Snus products. Brine refused to give a positive reply to this question and simply repeated the stock answer about snus being banned under the TPD.
Shannon pushed on with written questions, demanding to know if the government would remove the tag of “tobacco products” from vaping, and suggesting the need to urgently review the policies of local stop smoking services on vape products. Answers are yet to be given on these topics.
Labour’s Vicky Foxcroft wanted the government to focus on the effectiveness of vaping in helping to reduce smoking rates among in patients in mental health facilities. Brine gave no indication if this would be pushed through as a matter of urgency and simply referred to the current publications.