Steve Brine doesn’t get everything right, he supports Tottenham Hotspurs for example, but the MP for Winchester has always been correct about the potential for vaping to reduce the impact of smoking related disease. He quit the government during its internal wrangling over Brexit.
Writing on the Conservative Home platform, Brine knocks the current cabinet for its failure to explain precisely how it intends to achieve its target of a smoke-free England by 2030: “A year on, we have yet to see enough detail of how it intends to achieve its ambition, and there are real concerns that England could miss this target unless further clarity is provided.”
He speaks about how the UK vaping industry could be a “valuable partner” to the government in achieving this goal. He feels that its current value to the economy of £1 billion demonstrates it has been highly effective at addressing smoking cessation.
“Regulators and health experts in the UK have already acknowledged that vaping could play a crucial role in reducing smoking rates, providing smokers with an effective tool to quit altogether. During my time as Public Health Minister, we laid out its plan for adopting a harm reduction strategy, aimed at maximising smoking cessation among adults and minimising uptake by young people.”
Brine was always open to arguments put across by the likes of the New Nicotine Alliance, and truly ‘got it’. “With vaping,” he says, “there’s no combustion, no smoke, no tar as found in traditional tobacco products. While vaping is not without risk, and we lack the long view afforded by decades of research science, we know it allows smokers to receive nicotine without the cancerous toxins produced by combustible tobacco.”
He is incredibly well read when it comes to harm reduction; Brine knows his Public Health England ‘95 per cent less harmful’ research and the Queen Mary University of London research demonstrating vaping is twice as effective as traditional for smokers trying to quit.
Demonstrating that he has kept up with current events since handing over his responsibilities, Brine noted: “Recent negative media coverage means trust in the vape category has declined. For example, statements originating in the USA said that vapers could be at greater risk of contracting Covid-19, claims which are wholly unsubstantiated. This could deter smokers from transitioning to vaping, a significantly less harmful nicotine delivery method.”
What might make some vapers shudder is that he does add a call for the government to extend legislation to cover shortfill liquids, not currently covered by regulations applied to nicotine containing juices: “This would not only improve consumer confidence, but would ensure the UK retains its position as a global leader in the regulation of vape products and could support the Government’s public health objectives.”
Ultimately, he wants to see a greater effort from the current administration, “to inform the public about the benefits of vaping and how it has already helped thousands of people to reduce their tobacco use.”