Questions in Parliament

Posted 18th February 2019 by Dave Cross
Steve Brine MP, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care has responded to vape and general tobacco harm-related questions from Andrew Rosindell, Sharon Hodgson, Bob Blackman, and Adam Afriyie. Some of the questions related to the current uncertainty surrounding Brexit.

Conservative MP for Romford Andrew Rosindell asked Steve Brine: “Whether the UK will remain aligned with EU rules on nicotine strength in vaping products after the UK leaves the EU?”

The Under-Secretary for Health replied: “As announced in the Tobacco Control Plan the Government will review where the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union offers us opportunities to re-appraise current regulation to ensure this continues to protect the nation’s health. We will look to identify where we can sensibly deregulate without harming public health, or where EU regulations limit our ability to deal with tobacco.”

Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, wanted to know: “With reference to the Tobacco Products and Nicotine Inhaling Products (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018, whether products produced before the UK leaves the EU will still be legal to sell after the UK leaves the EU?”

“In the event of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union without a deal,” responded Steve Brine MP, “the Tobacco Products and Nicotine Inhaling Products (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 allow for tobacco products produced before exit day, with EU picture warnings, to be sold for 12 months after exit day. Any products manufactured after exit day will need to include the new picture health warnings which are introduced by the above legislation.”

He continued: “Tobacco products and e-cigarettes which have been notified via the EU notification system prior to exit day will not need to be notified again after exit day, unless there are substantive change to products.”

Harrow East’s Bob Blackman asked: “How much [has] his Department spent from the public purse on campaigns to promote the cessation of smoking in 2017-18?”

The answer: “Expenditure on smoking cessation advertising campaigns by Public Health England in 2017-18 was £1.99 million. Campaign spending is defined as covering only media spend. Figures are net, rounded to nearest £10,000. Figures exclude value added tax.”

Brine added: “Media spend includes expenditure for advertising on television, radio, national press, regional press, out of home (outdoor), cinema and digital. Recruitment advertising and media partnerships are not included.”

Adam Afriyie, the Conservative MP for Windsor, wanted to know: “What progress [Steve Brine] has made on implementing the recommendations accepted by the Government in its response to the Science and Technology Committee's Seventh Report of Session 2017-19 on E-cigarettes, HC505, [and] what steps he has taken to ensure that the regulatory system for e-cigarettes is risk-proportionate?”

In an extensive reply, Brine informed him: “The Government published its response to the Science and Technology Committee on the 10 December 2018. Good progress is being made on implementing the report’s recommendations: for example, Public Health England will publish its latest annual evidence review on e-cigarettes by the end of March 2019 and NHS England is developing guidance on e-cigarettes for mental health trusts. The Department will continue to monitor progress as part of its monitoring of the delivery of the Tobacco Control Plan for England.”

“The Government believes in proportionate regulation of e-cigarettes, recognising that they are not risk-free. Through the European Union Tobacco Products Directive 2014/40/EU (TPD), transposed into United Kingdom law by the UK Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 (TRPR), we have introduced measures to regulate e-cigarettes to reduce the risk of harm to children, protect against any risk of renormalisation of tobacco use, provide assurance on relative safety for users, and give businesses legal certainty. This has enabled the UK to implement appropriate standards for products whilst allowing smokers to move to e-cigarettes should they wish.”

“While the UK Government is a member of the EU it will continue to comply with the requirements of the EU’s TPD. The Government has made a commitment to review the TRPR by May 2021 to consider its regulatory impact. In addition, as announced in the Tobacco Control Plan the Government will review where the UK’s exit from the EU offers us opportunities to re-appraise current regulation to ensure this continues to protect the nation’s health.”

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker