The Science and Technology Committee have published a report making several recommendations to the Government suggesting changes in the laws applicable to e-cigarettes and vaping products should be implemented.
The report focuses on ensuring that e-cigarettes and vape products are not to be seen in the same light as traditional cigarettes when it comes to taxation or harm caused. It goes on to suggest a relaxation or lifting of the ban that prevents e-cigarettes being advertised as smoking cessation devices along with a more liberal approach to vaping in public places, with Norman Lamb MP, Chair of the Science and Technology Committee stating that: “transport providers and public places should stop viewing conventional and e-cigarettes as one and the same” and that “If used correctly, e-cigarettes could be a key weapon in the NHS’s stop smoking arsenal”.
The committee further calls for more government research to be made into the long term effects of vaping as to avoid misleading information about the dangers of e-cigarettes and encourage what they consider to be a safer alternative.
The committees recommendations in summary are;
- The Government, the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) and the e-cigarette industry should review how approval systems for stop smoking therapies could be streamlined should e-cigarette manufacturers put forward a product for medical licensing.
- There should be a wider debate on how e-cigarettes are to be dealt with in our public places, to help arrive at a solution which at least starts from the evidence rather than misconceptions about their health impacts.
- The Government should continue to annually review the evidence on the health effects of e-cigarettes and extend that review to heat-not-burn products. Further it should support a long-term research programme overseen by Public Health England and the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment with an online hub making evidence available to the public and health professionals.
- The limit on the strength of refills should be reviewed as heavy smokers may be put off persisting with them—and the restriction on tank size does not appear to be founded on scientific evidence and should therefore urgently be reviewed.
- The prohibition on making claims for the relative health benefits of stopping smoking and using e-cigarettes instead has prevented manufacturers informing smokers of the potential benefits and should be reviewed to identify scope for change post-Brexit.
- There should be a shift to a more risk-proportionate regulatory environment; where regulations, advertising rules and tax duties reflect the evidence of the relative harms of the various e-cigarettes, heat-not-burn and tobacco products available.
- NHS England should set a policy of mental health facilities allowing e-cigarette use by patients unless trusts can demonstrate evidence-based reasons for not doing so.
- The Government should review the evidence supporting the current ban on snus as part of a wider move towards a more risk aware regulatory framework for tobacco and nicotine products.