In the House of Lords, Lord Palmer asked Baroness Blackwood who were the tobacco control experts consulted over the proposed changes to tobacco packaging.
Blackwood responded: “The Department has consulted with a range of experts in tobacco control, including Professor David Hammond of the School of Public Health and Health Systems at the University of Waterloo, Canada; Rob Cunningham, Senior Policy Analyst at the Canadian Cancer Society; and Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of Action on Smoking and Health.”
In the House of Commons, Andrew Gwynne wanted to know what meetings Ministers and officials have had with representatives working on behalf of Philip Morris International.
James Brokenshire told him: “The Department does not maintain a record of all meetings which take place between officials and external organisations.”
Alex Cunningham wanted to know if companies are prevented from encouraging smokers to switch to vaping and advertising price reductions for e-cigarettes.
Steve Brine, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care, told him: “The United Kingdom Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 covers the regulation of e-cigarettes,” and this “defines what can be written on a unit packet and any container pack of the electronic cigarette. These regulations also prohibit price reductions.”
He continued, pointing out: “The Advertising Standards Authority is responsible for monitoring the marketing and advertising of non-broadcast communications for electronic cigarettes.”
Adam Afriyie wanted to know what steps Brine has taken to ensure that the regulatory system for e-cigarettes is risk-proportionate, and asked what progress has been made on implementing the recommendations from the Science and Technology Committee's Seventh Report.
Brine claimed, “good progress is being made”, and pointed to the new Public Health England update and that NHS England “is developing guidance on e-cigarettes for mental health trusts.”
He repeated the statement made last month that risk-proportionate is carried out in line with the Tobacco Products Directive, but added: “the Government will review where the UK’s exit from the EU offers us opportunities to re-appraise current regulation.”
Andrew Gwynne asked Steve Brine what representations have been received from local authorities on the subject of quit smoking services, and what assessment has made of their effectiveness.
Brine replied: “No correspondence received from local authorities,” and “NHS Digital collects quarterly data from stop smoking services in England, recording the number of people making a quit attempt, the numbers that are successful, demographic variables and success rates by different quitting methods.”
Ranil Jayawardena demanded to know what steps are being taken to address the findings of the Vaping in England report, expressing concern, “that the number of children who have tried e-cigarettes has doubled since 2014”.
Brine answered: “Public Health England’s report ‘Vaping in England: evidence update summary February 2019’ found e-cigarette use among young people in Great Britain has increased only modestly in recent years.”
“It found that, while experimentation with e-cigarettes among young people has increased in recent years, regular use remains low. Of the 2% of under-18s who used e-cigarettes weekly or more, the majority of those also smoked. Only 0.2% of young people who had never smoked used e-cigarettes regularly.”
Meanwhile, The Guardian recently reported that a cross-party group is pushing for the legal smoking age to be raised to 21. Health secretary Matt Hancock was quoted as being positively inclined to introduce new legislation to curb smoking rates.
The newspaper stated: “Under the new proposal, each tobacco manufacturer would effectively have to pay an annual fee based on the volume of smoked cigarettes it sold in the UK, potentially raising hundreds of millions of pounds.”
The Guardian “MPs call for legal smoking age to be raised to 21” - https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/mar/02/raise-legal-smoking-age-to-21-say-mps