Parliament

Posted 7th February 2020 by Dave Cross
Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, MP for Slough, is concerned about smoking rates in pregnant women. David Jones, who represents Clwyd West, asked the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care about WHO’s forthcoming Conference of the Parties (COP) and how this might impact British policy on vaping.

Smoking during pregnancy is the subject of a couple of current studies and a pilot program related to vaping. Forward thinking researchers believe switching to ecigs could be beneficial for pregnant women, foetuses and aid ongoing smoking cessation postpartum (the period after the baby has been delivered).

Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi asked Jo Churchill what steps are being taken to help reduce smoking rates among pregnant women.

Churchill responded: “The Government is committed to reducing the prevalence of women smoking during pregnancy to 6% or less by 2022. The NHS Long Term Plan makes provision for smoking cessation support to all pregnant women and their families in secondary care, and this includes a new smoke-free pregnancy pathway with focused sessions and treatments. In addition, Public Health England continues to work collaboratively with NHS England on the Maternity Transformation Programme to reduce the number of pregnant women who smoke.”

Research last year showed that mothers switching to vaping delivered healthy babies at the same rate as non-smokers, it is a shame she didn’t mention this.

Later this year, the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control will hold its ninth session of the Conference of the Parties. The U.K. is the nation donating the largest funding for this to take place and ought to have a strong voice – especially when it comes to vaping and tobacco harm reduction.

David Jones asked what the Government's policy on electronic nicotine delivery systems will be and if the Secretary of State Matt Hancock would make a statement.

In place of Hancock, Jo Churchill responded: “At the 9th World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Conference of the Parties, officials will continue to communicate the United Kingdom Government’s position on e-cigarettes. That is, although not risk free, e-cigarettes have helped some smokers to quit tobacco use who would not have quit through other means. We have introduced a proportionate regulatory framework and continue to keep the evidence base on e-cigarettes under review.”

Some would say the U.K. delegation has failed to convey the importance of our world-leading approach to tobacco harm reduction in the past.

David Jones followed this up by asking, “what assessment [Hancock] has made of the implications for his policies of the position taken by the World Health Organisation on electronic nicotine delivery systems?”

Again, Jo Churchill went into bat for her boss and responded with another bland statement: “The World Health Organization recommends regulating e-cigarettes in order to protect non-smokers and youth from accessing these products. The United Kingdom regulatory framework recognises this.”

“Although not risk free, in the UK, e-cigarettes have helped some smokers to quit tobacco use who would not have quit through other means. We continue to keep the evidence base on e-cigarettes under review.”


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