Cross Party Committee to Gather Evidence Around Impact of Vaping
The first step into a post Brexit possible relaxing of the UK’s TPD – TRPR – legislation began this week with MPs on the Science and Technology Committee beginning an inquiry into all things vape.
The aim of the committee is to look at pretty much every single aspect of e-cigarettes and vaping including:
- impact on human health
- effectiveness of current regulations
- current policy on advertising e-cigs
- post Brexit e-cig legislation
- product safety
- financial implications on industry and the NHS
Most of us can answer those questions easily enough but at least the politicians are taking a more pro-active interest in vaping – but they still can’t stop ‘worrying about the kids‘ which is becoming more than a little annoying.
Chair of the committee Norman Lamb MP said:
Almost three million people in the UK now use e-cigarettes, but there are still significant gaps in the research guiding their regulation and sale. They are seen by some as valuable tools that will reduce the number of people smoking ‘conventional’ cigarettes and seen by others as ‘re-normalising’ smoking for the younger generation.
We want to understand where the gaps are in the evidence base, the impact of the regulations, and the implications of this growing industry on NHS costs and the UK’s public finances.
The committee is made from MPs across the parties and has asked for written evidence to be submitted to them by December 8th this year.
Reactions to the Launch of the UK Vaping Inquiry
ASH – the Action on Smoking and Health UK based charity has welcomed the inquiry with chief executive Deborah Arnott saying:
ASH is pleased that the Committee has launched this timely inquiry, and we look forward to submitting evidence in response. This is a fast moving market and it is crucial that any policies on e-cigarettes are based on the best available evidence.
While e-cigarettes are helping smokers quit they are not a stand-alone solution to the tobacco epidemic and it’s important that the evidence is considered in the context of tried and tested policies such as taxation and regulating tobacco marketing, that have been driving down rates of smoking for many decades.
Hardly a glowing endorsement of e-cigs and vaping – but then given ASH has very much been late to the pro-vaping party that’s about as good as we can expect…
Mark Pawsey MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on E-cigarettes also welcomed the inquiry saying:
I am pleased that my colleagues in Parliament are showing an interest in vaping, as the All Party Parliamentary Group on E-cigarettes will be shortly releasing our first report on the impact of this technology on the nation’s health as well.I look forward to a strong examination of e-cigarettes and their effectiveness as a smoking cessation tool, as I believe vaping could represent a huge public health opportunity for this country.
Prof John Britton, Director of the UK Centre for Tobacco & Alcohol Studies at the University of Nottingham was a little more upbeat on the effectiveness of e-cigarettes as a healthier way to quit smoking adding:
I think this inquiry is a good idea it if helps draw a line under the common misconceptions about e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes have revolutionized smoking and are generating a huge public health benefit. It could be argued that it would be better if people didn’t use nicotine in the long run, but you could say the same about caffeine. The effect of long term nicotine use is trivial compared with smoking.
A spokesman said:
We absolutely welcome this Inquiry by the Science and Technology Committee, and we are pleased that vaping is attracting so much attention inside Parliament. With Public Health England recently endorsing vaping products in their Stoptober campaign, and the Royal College of Physicians, Cancer Research UK and the Royal Society of Public Health backing e-cigarettes as well, the evidence base for vaping is growing and growing.
This will be an excellent opportunity to robustly interrogate the science behind e-cigarettes, and firmly establish vaping as the best way to change the lives of smokers in the UK.
Contact Your MP
Just what the committee will be able to do or indeed what power they’ll have with the findings is unclear and it could be just a kind of ‘seen to be doing‘ exercise.
The role of the committee is described as to:
…exist to ensure that Government policy and decision-making are based on good scientific and engineering advice and evidence
So I guess we have to give them the benefit of the doubt and hope some of our larger vaping advocacy groups such as the New Nicotine Alliance and IBVTA and their ‘sound advice and evidence‘ will be listened too.
Hopefully those two groups will feed the thoughts and opinions of the 3 million UK vapers – manufacturers and retailers to the committee in some way – as soon as we know how as vapers we can do that we’ll let you know.
In the interim I guess if your MP is a member of the committee it wouldn’t hurt contacting him or her with your own personal vaping stories as these can and do have a profound effect.
Here’s the current list of members:
- Norman Lamb (Chair) Liberal Democrat
- Vicky Ford Conservative
- Bill Grant Conservative
- Adam Holloway Conservative
- Darren Jones Labour
- Clive Lewis Labour
- Stephen Metcalfe Conservative
- Neil O’Brien Conservative
- Stephanie Peacock Labour
- Graham Stringer Labour
- Martin Whitfield Labour
Topics the Committee Will Cover
And here’s the full list of areas the committee will be considering:
- The impact on human health of e-cigarettes—themselves and relative to ‘conventional’ smoking—and any gaps in the science knowledge-base in this area.
- The benefits and risks of e-cigarettes as a ‘stop smoking’ tool, any gaps in the knowledge-base on this, and whether any approaches are needed to tackle e-cigarette addiction.
- The uptake of e-cigarettes among young people and evidence on whether e-cigarettes play a role in ‘re-normalising’ smoking.
- Whether there is any regulatory variation between the EU and UK, and across UK nations, and the implications of Brexit on regulation in this area.
- The effectiveness of regulation on the advertising and marketing of e-cigarettes.
- The impact to date of the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations on the vaping industry and on the prevalence of e-cigarettes.
- The safety of e-cigarette devices, and any safety regulation requirements.
- The economic impact of the UK’s e-cigarette industry.
- The public finances implications of e-cigarettes, including how the rise in e-cigarette consumption could affect NHS costs.
Step One – Stop Referring To E-Cigs as Tobacco Products!
The committee website also asks the question has the UK Government kept up with their understanding of what they call ‘novel tobacco products‘.
The Committee would also like to hear views on whether Government policy and regulation has kept up with the full range of ‘smoking’ and novel tobacco products (such as ‘heat not burn’) that are becoming available to the public, and if it takes account of their likely impact on human health.
I could answer that with one word – NO!
And I respectfully suggest they split the new tobacco ‘heat not burn‘ products away from e-cigarettes into an entirely separate category as e-cigarettes DO NOT contain tobacco and therefore should not even be in the TPD or linked to tobacco in the first place!
If the committee recognized that one crucial point some of us might actually start thinking we were getting somewhere – OK rant over lol.
As soon as we know more about the committee’s work and of course findings we’ll let you know.