Vaping and Harm Reduction in Parliament

Posted 2nd July 2021 by Dave Cross
The Palace of Westminster still manages to find things to discuss other than COVID, Dominic Cummings, or who has been caught smooching on CCTV. Baroness Hayman, Lord Goldsmith, Adam Afriyie, Jo Churchill, Crispin Blunt and Mark Pawsey have all discussed matters relating to vaping and tobacco harm reduction.

Baroness Hayman of Ullock asked Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park what plans Her Majesty's Government has to establish regulations to place an additional tax on the tobacco industry to pay for the cost of cleaning up discarded cigarette butts. She followed this up by asking if there was a timetable for implementing such measures.

Lord Goldsmith responded: “New research conducted by Eunomia for Defra and the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) indicates that cleaning up littered cigarette butts currently costs litter authorities in the UK around £40 million per year, rising to £46 million when including those disposed of in public bins.

“We have recently announced our intention to explore regulatory options to ensure that the tobacco industry takes sufficient financial responsibility for the toxic litter created by its products. Supported by the Department of Health and Social Care, Defra is now actively exploring the suitability of regulatory options to reduce tobacco litter and we plan to conduct further research this year.

No timetable is currently available to guide this proposed legislative change.

Windsor Commons’ Adam Afriyie asked the ex-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care if he would be making “an assessment of the implications for his policies of the findings of the all-party Parliamentary group on vaping's inquiry into COP9 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control?” Adam also wanted to know if the Health Secretary would meet the APPG to discuss their report’s conclusions.

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Jo Churchill answered: “The Department has reviewed the report and agrees that e-cigarettes can play an important role in supporting smokers to quit.”

No promise for the UK’s delegation at the Conference of Parties or a willingness to meet the APPG then.

Reigate’s Crispin Blunt asked Matt Hancock what recent assessment has been made of the likelihood of alcohol and tobacco being misused, the risk of alcohol and tobacco misuse causing harmful effects sufficient to constitute a social problem and the effectiveness of excluding alcohol and tobacco from control of harmful drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

Jo Churchill told him that no assessment has been made, but added that the Government “will be publishing a new Tobacco Control Plan later this year setting out plans for England to become a smoke-free country by 2030.

Again, not the most forthright of responses.

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Rugby’s Mark Pawsey is very pro-vaping and was also concerned about the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control’s COP9, taking place in November.

He wondered if the Health Secretary would be ensuring that the UK delegation to the Ninth Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Conference will be taking the opportunity to speak about the UK’s progress on the implementation of tobacco harm reduction policies and the role of vaping in making that progress.

Pawsey also noted that the Second Session of the Meeting of the Parties (MOP2) to the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products will be meeting virtually. He requested the UK delegation included advocates for the Government’s harm reduction policies and consumers – as recommended by the all-party Parliamentary group for Vaping.

Jo Churchill told him: “Departmental officials will be attending the virtual Ninth World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Conference of the Parties (COP9). Officials from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs will be attending the virtual Second Session of the Meeting of the Parties (MOP2). As COP9 and MOP2 are Government-led events, no other representatives will be attending.

“Whilst the agenda and papers for COP9 and MOP2 have not been circulated, officials will use the opportunity to speak about the United Kingdom’s progress on the implementation of tobacco control policies. This will include, where relevant, the role of nicotine replacement therapy and e-cigarettes in supporting smokers to quit.”

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So, as end users of vape equipment, we will still be denied a voice with those who make the rules.


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