The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Smoking and Health presented its latest recommendations for a new Tobacco Control Plan (TCP) at Westminster on the 10th June 2021.
As the Smokefree 2030 target moves ever closer, numerous MPs from two main political parties have shared their agreement that vaping plays a vital role in Britain achieving the ambitious target to be a “smoke free” nation by 2030.
This latest debate builds on the most recent Royal College of Physicians Report which highlighted smoking and the actions which can be taken to reduce the negative and life threatening impact it has an so many people, both within the UK and across the globe.
Among the range of proposals highlighted, one major area discussed by various MPs was the amount of false information preventing smokers to quit through vaping; Proposals were set out to curb smoking prevalence in the UK to expand the use of vaping based on the increase of “data and evidence” pointing towards e-cigarettes efficiency in helping smokers quit.
With a recent report by Future Health highlighting that smoking increased due to lockdown, there has never been more of an important time to discuss vaping as a healthier alternative to smoking.
Most evident in the debate was the proposals to curb smoking prevalence within the UK with recommendations to expand the use of vaping based products to efficiently help smokers quit for good. The universal consensus from the cross-party debate recommends that vaping should be a central part of any plan for the UK to meet its Smokefree targets and save lives.
MPs Statements on vaping recommendations for the new TCP
With MPs from both Labour and Conservative coming together to debate a new Tobacco Control Plan, there was clear agreement between the two parties that vaping should be utilised as a quit smoking aid, with clearer evidence highlighted on the health benefits of vaping when compared to smoking required, especially with recent evidence from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) suggesting millions of smokers could be dissuaded from switching to e-cigarettes because of incorrect views or confusion about vaping.
First to speak at the debate was Mary Glindon (Labour MP), who also sits on the All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPG) on E-cigarettes, highlighted there is a huge opportunity to cement the UK as the global leader in tobacco harm reduction.
“To achieve its ambitions the forthcoming control plan must champion less harmful alternatives to smoking combustible tobacco, in particular the growing body of evidence showing vaping to be the most effective alternative for adult smokers looking to quit smoking.”
David Jones (Conservative MP), who is also Honorary Life Governor at Cancer Research UK points out that the core issues with smoking is, of course, the smoke. Talking further he states any evidence-based policy to assist the 7 million smokers within the UK must put forward alternative products to combustible tobacco, [much like vaping products].
“Continuing to raise awareness of those products is also key. E-cigarettes and the use of other alternatives saves lives and we should make sure that message reaches every smoker in Britain.
“E-cigarettes are hugely important in the fight against smoking and I commend NHS England for promoting them to smokers. It’s based on evidence and has a proven positive effect on the health of the nation.”
Mr Jones also highlights the statistics that in 2018, over 50,000 smokers have managed to quit smoking with the aid of a vaping product.
Adam Afriyie (Conservative MP) who is also Chair of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, backed up David Jones statements by highlighting we’re in an era where we must be driven by data and evidence.
“We’re in an era where we must be driven by data and evidence,” he said. “And it can’t be any clearer that, when it comes to vaping devices, electronic nicotine delivery devices and other technologies and ways nicotine can be used to help smokers to cease, that the data is only one way.
“It is so much safer to vape or use an electronic device than it is to smoke. Smoke is the killer. Tobacco is the killer.”
Going further, Mr Afriyie urged UK Government not to mirror what the EU have done and what the World Health Organisation (WHO) seem to be doing by merging the two issues [smoking and vaping] together.
From a different perspective, Labour MP Virendra Sharma who comes from “a family of non-smokers" including themself, highlighted they could not see the appeal of smoking although highlighted that people are clearly addicted with those with addiction need “treatment not moralising”.
“There are 3 million people who vape in Britain and nearly all are former smokers. That’s 3 million who choose a less harmful option.”
Followed by this, Alex Norris (Labour MP) emphasised that “e-cigarettes must be a feature of the TCP”. Mirroring what was already highlighted, he went on to point out his hope that the minister and UK Government push harder for stronger and more clearer messages on vaping.
“I looked at the WHO website myself and could not fathom what it was trying to tell me. That makes it really hard for people thinking about alternatives to know what they’re supposed to do or not.
“Personally, I always rely on the Public Health England position from 2018, that vaping represents a 95% reduction in harm.”
Bringing the debate to a close, Jo Churchill (Conservative MP), who is also Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Prevention, Public Health and Primary Care at the Department of Health and Social Care, highlighted the benefits of vaping when protecting smokers.
“Within our plan we will re-commit to the role of e-cigarette products. They certainly have a place in supporting smokers to quit and we will ensure they remain accessible while protecting non-smokers and young people.”
After the session, Director General of the UK Vaping Industry Association, John Dunne highlighted that this debate was a crucial moment in the UK’s journey towards harm reduction.
“It’s not often that you witness different political parties reaching a consensus in this way but, it appears, the urgent need to reduce smoking rates in Britain and the vital role vaping can play in achieving smoke free 2030 are the issues where tribalism is put aside and common sense prevails.”
As highlighted numerous times in the past by both Royal Flush Vape and the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA), there is a large amount of misinformation and misperceptions about the relative harm of e-cigarettes versus tobacco. The UKVIA have already made recommendations to the Department for Health for further consideration when reviewing The Tobacco and Related Products Regulations (TRPR), a process which is already under way.
With new evidence being provided on a regular basis highlighting vaping as a much safer alternative to smoking, including Public Health England (PHE) who insist vaping is 95% safer than smoking cigarettes.
It's unfortunate that still today there's constant news reports putting vaping in a negative light, these false fears clearly prevent smokers from quitting through a much safer option such as vaping. Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) talks about how vaping could help smokers quit cigarettes.
"Vaping has helped many thousands of smokers quit to date. But many thousands more could benefit if they were not put off by the persistent, worsening and inaccurate beliefs the public hold about vaping."
The steps taken in moving forward seem positive, although it's still clearly evident that further actions must be adopted by UK Government to reach anywhere near the Smokefree 2030 targets already set out.
As all of us here at Royal Flush Vape continue to provide products, advice and support on quitting smoking, we can only hope that a much greater positive light is placed on vaping for the healthier option it provides smokers to finally kick the habit.