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Final questions and answers in Parliament before the Christmas break

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In the final questions and answers in Parliament before the Christmas break, The Marquess of Lothian inquired about fruit-flavoured e-liquids. Baroness Redfern was concerned about disposables, feelings shared by David Jones MP. Patrick Grady MP is worried about disposable waste. Andrew Gwynne MP wondered how the progress towards a Smokefree 2030 target will be monitored and Bob Blackman MP reminded ministers that the tobacco control plan still hasn’t been published.

The Marquess of Lothian Conservative asked the Government what steps they are taking to publicise the finding contained in the Nicotine Vaping in England: 2022 evidence update, published on 29 September, that "vaping is not risk-free, particularly for people who have never smoked"; and whether the review update found any evidence that fruit-flavoured vaping products may contribute to increased usage, and addiction, in young people.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care, Lord Markham responded: “The report details that vaping poses only a small fraction of the risks of smoking in the short-to-medium term. It also states that never or long-term former smokers should be discouraged from taking up vaping, unless the individual would otherwise relapse to smoking, as the degree of any long-term risks remains unclear.

“The report will inform the Department’s communications and the advice given by the online only resources Better Health and Ask Frank. Several of its chapters have been or will be published in peer review journals and the authors will be undertaking webinars and conference presentations. The report notes that while fruit flavours are commonly used by adults and young people, no evidence is presented of these products being more addictive.”

Baroness Redfern asked the Government what plans they have to review the powers held by Trading Standards to tackle the illegal sale of disposable vape products to underage young people.

Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Lord Callanan told her: “Trading Standards already have powers to tackle underage sales of products. Where there is evidence of shops selling age restricted products to underage people, this should be reported to Citizens Advice on 0808 223 1133 or through its website in the first instance.”

Clwyd West’s David Jones asked the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment has been made of the potential environmental impact of discarded disposable e-cigarettes.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Rebecca Pow told him: “The Department has not undertaken an assessment of the environmental impact of disposable vapes in the UK.

“Our current priority is to work with regulators and the vaping sector to ensure producers, internet sellers and retailers of vaping products understand their obligations under environmental legislation and comply.”

Glasgow North’s Patrick Grady asked the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment has been made of the potential merits of introducing regulations to tackle waste caused by disposable vape products.

 

Rebecca Pow replied: “Disposable vapes are covered by the Government’s regulations on producer responsibility for waste electrical and electronic equipment. Defra has not undertaken an assessment of the potential merits of introducing additional regulations at this time.

“Our current priority is to work with regulators and the vaping sector to ensure producers, internet sellers and retailers of vaping products understand their obligations under environmental legislation and comply.”

Denton and Reddish’s Andrew Gwynne asked the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care how the Government will monitor its progress against the Smokefree 2030 target without a formal assessment.

Neil O'Brien, the Minister for Primary care and Public Health told him: “We monitor progress through reviewing adult smoking prevalence estimates, based on data from the Annual Population Survey. Smoking prevalence estimates for 2021 are due to be published on 6 December 2022 by the Office for National Statistics in ‘Adult smoking habits in the UK'.”

Finally, Harrow East’s Bob Blackman wondered on what date and time the tobacco control plan will be published.

Neil O’Brien said: “Whatever format our next steps forward are set out in, we will be pushing forward very quickly and aggressively on this. This year, we are putting £35 million into the NHS to support our services for everyone who goes in to stop smoking. We have doubled duty on cigarettes and brought in a minimum excise tax. Women who are pregnant now routinely get a carbon monoxide test. National campaigns such as Stoptober have now helped 2.1 million people to quit smoking. We are also supporting a future medically licensed vaping product as a quitting aid. We will be pressing forward at the greatest speed.”

So, still no date for the document that was due months ago.

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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