UK vapers were hoping for their own piece of July 4th independence from the shackles of the EU’s TPD’s e-cigarette regulations as the Lords met to debate the controversial new laws.
However despite impassioned speeches in favour of ridding vapers and the industry as a whole from the drastic effect these laws could have, the motion was withdrawn – more of a damp squib than the fireworks we were led to believe.
The debate was billed as our Lordships chance to set light to the paper, known as Article 20, and start a bonfire under the Tory government’s plan to adopt the new rules.
Laws which include among others, the ban of e-liquids sold in bottles over 10mls and the ban of all advertising of e-cigarette products.
The motion by Lord Callanan (Con) in full:
“To move that this House regrets that the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 place restrictions on product choice and advertising of vaping devices, were devised before evidence had accumulated that vaping was enabling many people to quit smoking, run counter to advice from the Royal College of Physicians to promote vaping and are so severe that they could force vapers back to smoking and create a black market with harmful products; and calls upon Her Majesty’s Government to withdraw them (SI 2016/507). (Dinner break business)”
Lord Callanan (Con) opened by saying the new regulations were nothing short of a ‘crazy state of affairs’ warning the implementation could mean 95% of all vaping products being removed from sale.
As to the damage to current tobacco reduction schemes he said TPD would cause “appalling damage.”
Failed E-Cig Land Grab
He kept his most damming words for the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Pointing out Big Pharma’s anti-smoking nicotine products were heavily subsidised by the UK Government he said:
“They (MHRA) are backed by large pharmaceutical companies and have failed in an e-cigarette land grab. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry as they continue to bring the law into disrepute.”
Before moving for the TPD to be thrown out as a whole, he called for the Government to begin a concerted public information campaign to highlight the BENEFITS of vaping.
This in particular seemed to be supported by most if not all in the house.
E-Cig Laws “Draconian”
In response, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath (Labour) said whilst he agreed with most of Lord Callanan’s points, he felt the regulations on tobacco should remain.
However he too called for a public health information campaign stating:
“90% of people including smokers think vaping is just as dangerous as smoking.”
However he raised a chuckle when stating:
“I believe the EU has saved vaping. Because I have little doubt had they not brought out this legislation the British Government would have introduced far more Draconian measures.”
In an impassioned speech cancer survivor Lord Campbell-Savours (Labour) said he’d wished e-cigarettes had been around when he began smoking.
“I have tried everything to give up smoking – patches and even hypnosis – nothing worked.”
Reading from a letter sent to him by an e-cigarette producer he said:
“He has 3 shops is an e-cigarette manufacturer and employs a number of people. He is extremely proud that he is helping people give up smoking and points out these are NOT tobacco products and can’t understand why the Government is risking the lives of millions of people who could give up tobacco.”
Only One Vote
Baroness Hollins – a psychiatrist no less – and a fan of ASH along with Lord Rennard a former ASH director played the ‘what about the children card’ as was to be expected.
An amendment by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath (Labour) did in fact get a vote:
“To move, as an amendment to the above motion, to leave out “and calls upon Her Majesty’s Government to withdraw them” and insert “and further regrets that the Regulations are not to be accompanied by a public information campaign to reassure smokers that electronic cigarettes are less harmful than normal smoking; that smoking cessation services are being cut back at the same time as the Regulations are being introduced; and that the Regulations are due for implementation before the Government have published their tobacco strategy.”
However it was defeated by 91 votes to 57. In summing up Lord Prior of Brampton, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Con), stated the UK Government had the most liberal approach to vaping in the world.
He announced the Government had instructed Public Health England to continue to gather more information on e-cigarettes reporting back on an annual basis.
And in a bold move he reported that in future information about e-cigarettes should be added to future Quit Smoking campaign materials.
As many of us expected the debate delivered no real help to beleaguered vapers or indeed the industry as a whole.
This does not mean we’ve lost the war – just another battle on the road to vaping victory.
The main problem we have is we’re up against the big boys. Big Pharma – Big Tobacco – Big cancer charities and of course our nemesis ASH.
They have money lobbying power and of course most politicians if not in their pockets, then certainly at their beck and call.
Hopefully and as John Lennon once said:
“Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”
Until then continue campaigning on social media, write to your MP, join other vaping groups out there and get the message out!