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New Secretary of State for Health

Wes Streeting has been appointed as the new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care by Prime Minister Keir Starmer, as part of the new Labour Government

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Wes Streeting has been appointed as the new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care by Prime Minister Keir Starmer, as part of the new Labour Government. Planet of the Vapes takes a comprehensive look at what he has said about vaping and tobacco harm reduction while in opposition.

The Independent British Vape Trade Association (IBVTA) has been the only organisation or vape advocacy organisation to welcome the appointment of Wes Streeting to his new post, saying: “Congratulations to Wes Streeting MP on being appointed Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. We look forward to working with the new Government to ensure vaping policy is rooted in evidence, and the UK's standing as the global leader in harm reduction from smoking through vaping is maintained.”

But what can we expect from him?

Vaping has a role to play,” the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) reported from a Policy Exchange event at the Labour Party Conference.

The UKVIA said: “He bemoaned those companies creating packaging and/or flavours targeting children and for retailers who sell to children he talked of potential financial penalties and/or a licensing scheme, as has been advocated by the UKVIA for many years now

“That said, he concluded by saying that he ‘didn’t want heavy-handed regulation’ and that it was up to the industry to sort itself out first, before proposing government interventions

“During the event, Streeting was asked by John Dunne, UKVIA, whether he was willing to sit down and discuss fines and licensing for retailers and closing loopholes to protect children – he accepted the challenge, saying that may be he had been ‘too hard on the industry’.”

At the conference itself, Wes Streeting talked a bit tougher, promising “to those in the vaping industry, who have sought to addict a generation of children to nicotine with flavours like rainbow burst and cotton candy ice, you have been warned, a Labour government will come down on you like a ton of bricks.

He went on to pledge: “Labour will ban the marketing, promotion and the sale of vapes to children.”

The Tobacco and Vapes Bill

Speaking in the House of Commons during a debate on The Tobacco and Vapes Bill, Wes Streeting vowed: “Labour will give our wholehearted support to this Bill. In fact, we needed no persuasion. In an interview with The Times in January last year, I said that it was time for a New Zealand-style smoking ban. I argued that a progressive ban would have a transformational impact on the health of individuals, the health of the nation as a whole and the public finances.”

Moving on to vaping, Streeting added: “Vaping is undoubtedly, unquestionably a useful smoking cessation tool, but we should not send the message to the country that vaping is good for our health or that it is without harmful consequences

“The Labour party will not go around trying to ban things left, right and centre”

When it comes to banning things, it should be on the basis of evidence and there should not be a predisposition to ban. I have not yet seen evidence to persuade me that vaping is harmful enough to introduce a ban of the sort suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for York Central. I hope I can reassure the right hon. Gentleman that, when the general election eventually comes, the Labour party will not go around trying to ban things left, right and centre.”

When a Conservative MP pointed out that if a rolling ban on cigarette sales was adopted, teens would not need vaping to help them quit and so that should be included. In response, Streeting adopted a very sensible position: “There are plenty of things that we do on a daily basis that might be harmful to our health in some way. Indeed, participating in most physical contact sports carries a risk of injury, but we are not going to ban football, rugby or boxing.

On flavours, he said: “We need to ensure that we get the regulation right on that so that we do not unwittingly deter people from stopping smoking. However, as I will come on to talk about when I come to the vaping section of the Bill, there is no excuse whatsoever for the kinds of flavourings and marketing of vapes that we have seen, which I believe have been deliberately and wilfully designed to addict young people to what is, let us not forget, a harmful substance. I make that very clear.”

What is clear is that vapers, trade organisations and advocacy bodies needs to press the case for flavours to their local MPs and the Department of Health, and this is something that needs to be done swiftly as the new government has pledged to return to the Tobacco and Vapes Bill very soon.

In our article on Monday, we detailed:

The various websites are currently being updated with details of the new MPs. Keep checking this one so you can write directly to yours:

Also, you can write to Wes Streeting at the Department for Health now:

Address post to him at the Ministerial Correspondence and Public Enquiries Unit, Department of Health and Social Care, 39 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0EU

You can send an email to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care here: [email protected].

Photo Credit:

  • Banner Wes Streeting image from UK flag by James Giddins on Unsplash Department Wes Streeting image

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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