Dr Dan Poulter, the Conservative MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, asked the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care what his plans were, “for public health tobacco smoking policies and strategies following the merger of Public Health England with NHS Test and Trace and the Joint Biosecurity Centre.”
Matt Hancock must be permanently busy with something else as the question was again answered by Jo Churchill, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care. She told him: “The Government will continue its focus on health improvement and preventing ill-health, with support from the expert teams who currently sit in Public Health England, who will continue with their excellent work.
“We are not envisaging any changes to where responsibilities such as drugs, alcohol, gambling, and sexual health will sit until spring 2021. We have been consulting with staff and engaging with an external stakeholder advisory group on where PHE’s health improvement functions would be best placed in order to support the public health system in our aim to increase healthy life expectancy. Furthermore, we will be consulting with all staff.”
Emily Thornberry, Labour MP for Islington South and Finsbury, also asked Hancock to detail, “what guidance the Government has provided to the UK tobacco manufacturing industry on the source of the pictorial health warnings that they are required to use on products manufactured for sale in (a) Great Britain and (b) Northern Ireland, from 1 January 2021.”
Again, he was not able to do this, so Under Secretary Churchill told Thornberry: “The Department published guidance on 19 August 2020 outlining the requirements for labelling tobacco products after the end of the transition period.” [link]
Ashfield’s Conservative representative, Lee Anderson, then asked Hancock, “what comparative assessment he has made of the proportion of people switching to e-cigarettes in (a) 2020 and (b) 2019; and if he will make a statement?”
The short answer was ‘no’, as Churchill stepped up to the plate again.
“Public Health England published the latest review of the evidence on e-cigarettes and vaping in England in March this year,” she told him. “The review provides a full analysis of trends in behaviours and attitudes relating to the use of nicotine vaping products among young people and adults. It found that prevalence of e-cigarette use has remained stable since the 2019 review. Data for 2020 will be published in early 2021 in PHE’s next e-cigarette evidence update.”
Finally, Sir Charles Walker, the Conservative MP for Broxbourne, asked Hancock, “when the Government plans to announce the call for evidence to assess further the effectiveness of heated tobacco products in helping people to quit smoking and reducing associated health harms?”
The ever-present Jo Churchill responded: “In the prevention Green Paper consultation ‘Advancing our health: Prevention in the 2020s’ the Government indicated that we will consider running a call for independent evidence to assess further how effective heated tobacco products are, or are not, in helping people quit smoking and reducing health harms from smoking. This forms part of our commitment to evaluate the evidence on new products. This work is currently paused due to the need to prioritise work on the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We will consider looking at this at a later date to form part of our smokefree 2030 plans.”
Public Health England vaping review – [link]