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Whitty Questions Juice Flavours

Professor Sir Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer for England, has questioned whether e-liquid flavours and colours encourage non-smokers to vape

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Professor Sir Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer for England, has questioned whether e-liquid flavours and colours encourage non-smokers to vape. He made the statement during a question-and-answer session with the Health and Social Care Committee at the Houses of Parliament last week, prompting a slew of negative media coverage.

The members of the Health and Social Care Committee who were present included:

  • Steve Brine (Chair)
  • Lucy Allan
  • Paul Blomfield
  • Paul Bristow
  • Martyn Day
  • Chris Green
  • Mrs Paulette Hamilton
  • Dr Caroline Johnson
  • Rachael Maskell
  • James Morris

Dr Caroline Johnson was responsible for the 10-Minute Bill to ban disposables and was supported by some of the committee members.

Dr Johnson asked Professor Whitty: “I want to ask about vaping. You talked about tobacco smoking. We know that we want to stop people smoking tobacco because it is bad for them and makes them die younger from all sorts of different diseases.

“Vaping was invented so that you can stop smoking more effectively. We believe it is less bad for you than smoking. We also know that it is not as good for you as breathing fresh air.

“One of my concerns is that something that was supposed to be a stop-smoking device, like nicotine gum, has become a fad, heavily marketed at children, which is developing a whole generation of teenagers who are completely addicted to sucking little nicotine-coloured pop things.

“What are your thoughts on the effects on teenagers’ health of vaping? How do we stop them getting addicted?”

Professor Sir Chris Whitty responded: “Let’s start off with the bit of the puzzle that everybody agrees on, and then I will go to the bits where I think it is more contested.

“I think everyone agrees that it is far safer for someone to vape than to smoke. If the choice has to be between one or two of those because they are smoking heavily and they want to come off smoking, but they cannot completely stop so they go on to vaping, that is a net benefit in health terms. Vaping has an important role as a public health tool to help smokers who are addicted, often through no choice of their own at that stage, to come off smoking. I think everyone agrees with that.

“Everyone agrees that marketing vaping, an addictive product with, as you imply, unknown consequences for developing minds, to children is utterly unacceptable, yet it is happening. “There is no doubt it is happening. Although it is from a low base, the rates of vaping have doubled in the last couple of years among children. That is an appalling situation.

“There is a bit in the middle. Is it reasonable to have, in any case, flavours and colours that, essentially, encourage people to vape who may well not be vaping at all? We would much rather people did not vape at all. It is only for those who are already smoking, and vaping is the route out for them, where vaping has a clear public health goal.

“We need to be much more serious, in my view. I know this is something you have very firmly championed, and I completely agree with you. We should try everything we can to reduce vaping, as well as smoking, in children—both of those are critical—which is really important, while trying what we can do to make sure that vaping is available for those for whom it is the route out of smoking. It is the best tool for some people, though by no means wholly effective.

“It is getting that balance right. There is quite a lot of debate around the world about how to do it. Something you have picked up on, Dr Johnson, and I completely agree with you, is that disposable vapes, things like ElfBar, are clearly the kinds of products that look as if they are being marketed in reality at children. We should look very seriously at those products, for which the child market appears to be the principal market, and say, ‘Why are we considering this to be a good thing to have?’

Dr Johnson replied: “I shall take that as tacit support for my 10-minute rule Bill of last week. Thank you, Professor.”

Articles produced following Whitty’s comments:

  • Marketing of vapes to children ‘utterly unacceptable’, says Chris Whitty” – The Guardian
  • Chris Whitty demands crackdown on kid vaping epidemic” – Mail Online
  • Sir Chris Whitty warned this week that the country must crackdown on vaping kids as numbers continue to climb” – The Sun
  • Sir Chris Whitty Questions Need for Flavoured E-Cigarettes ‘Clearly Aimed’ at Children” – Daily Telegraph

It appears as though support for a complete ban on disposables in the United Kingdom is solidifying. Concerns will be that a ban opens the door to restrictions on bottles of flavoured e-liquids and vape products in general.


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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