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Put Consumers At The Heart of Debate

A cross-party group of parliamentarians call to put consumers at the heart of the debate to maximise tobacco harm reduction opportunities post-Brexit

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The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Vaping calls 2021 a “pivotal year” in a document published last week. The politicians call for smokers and vapers to have “access to, and information about, a wider range of safer, reduced-risk, nicotine products to help them quit combustible tobacco – ensuring their experiences remain front and centre of the policy debate.”

The full report (1) was described by expert Clive Bates as a “genuinely well-founded basis for meeting the [government’s] 2030 target”.

It's the first report I have seen that takes the harm reduction concept towards its more logical conclusion, embracing vaping, heated tobacco products, smokeless and new nicotine pouches and trying to tilt the regulatory playing field in their favour, rather than against them.”

The APPG (2) called on the Government to expand current regulations that cover vaping products to include a wider range of reduced-risk nicotine products, “to help ensure that the 7 million smokers in the UK are given the best chance possible to quit using combustible tobacco.

The report is the product of its inquiry, in which the APPG received submissions from over 400 consumers and stakeholders.

The APPG said: “At a time when the Government is reviewing the regulations imposed on the UK by the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive, the call has come for the UK to chart its own path and take a more progressive approach to tobacco harm reduction – embracing the products and the new technologies that aim to make smoking combustible cigarettes a thing of the past.”

Vaping has been both popular and successful for over a decade in the UK in getting smokers to switch away from smoking to a safer alternative, but at the time where its usage is now plateauing, the Parliamentarians – which included Viscount Matt Ridley, a vocal advocate for reduced harm alternatives – have called on the Government to embrace all nicotine alternatives to cigarettes that are free from harmful combustion.

The group has called for clarity and consistency across the regulations to ensure that consumers and retailers alike can continue to be protected from unintended consequences while equipping the smokers with the best range of alternatives to move away from cigarettes.

The main recommendations from the Report include:

  • Extending the current regulations for vaping to other non-combustible alternatives to cigarettes, bringing the following products into an expansion of the category: largely unregulated nicotine pouches, heated tobacco products currently illegal snus
  • Amending the rules for vapes to ensure they cater to the needs of both existing vapers and the smokers who have tried them but not stuck with them – allowing for increased tank sizes, bottle sizes and higher nicotine strengths (often the key barrier to helping heavy smokers quit)
  • Allowing for sensible – and direct – communications to smokers and vapers about the products available to them, whether through inserts in cigarette packs, or via digital/online means

The inquiry received evidence from prominent names within the tobacco harm-reduction field including Professor David Nutt, Professor Lynne Dawkins, Professor Catherine Kimber, Clive Bates and Professor Peter Hajek among others.

Mark Pawsey, Member of Parliament for Rugby and Chair of the APPG for Vaping, said: “Now that the UK has left the EU, we have opportunities across a number of policy areas to reassess our regulations to ensure they are both fit-for-purpose and future-proofed. New technology has led to a number of new, safer, reduced-risk alternatives to smoking being available and in order to reach our Smoke-Free 2030 goal, we need to embrace those products.

“By putting consumers at the heart of our inquiry, the APPG heard from hundreds of former smokers who successfully quit cigarettes by using vapes or other, safer, alternatives. However, it is clear that there is a significant lack of information about these products and often there is a  great deal of misinformation surrounding them. We therefore urge the Government to bring clarity and consistency to the regulations by embracing a multi-category approach to all non-combustible alternatives and allow smokers to receive information about these safer, reduced-risk, products to help them quit cigarettes for good.”

Advocacy group ETHRA submitted to the APPG’s inquiry and welcomed that ETHRA is mentioned on page 36.


  1. The report: Inquiry into UK Tobacco Harm Reduction Opportunities Post-Brexit -
  2. The APPG Website -
Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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