The U.K. Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) is asking Members of Parliament to champion the public health benefits of vaping as the Department of Health and Social Care looks to publish a new Tobacco Control Plan (TCP) later this year to support the government’s smoke-free 2030 ambition.
The U.K. House of Commons will debate the “Recommendations for the forthcoming Tobacco Control Plan” on June 10.
According to the UKVIA, the upcoming debate is a huge opportunity to refocus efforts in ensuring that England achieves its aim of becoming smoke-free by 2030. The U.K. is estimated to have a smoking prevalence of 14.1 percent, and the forthcoming Tobacco Control Plan is a chance to see this number decrease further, particularly in light of an uptake during the pandemic period, the association writes in template letter to local MPs.
The UKVIA letter urges MPs to make the following points during the debate:
- The government must seize the opportunity presented by the U.K. having left the European Union. With the ongoing review of the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations (TRPR) and the forthcoming TCP, the government has the opportunity to diverge from EU law governing tobacco and nicotine policy to level up on health inequalities across the U.K. Independence allows for U.K. regulations to stay relevant, be easily adapted to changing consumer trends and any market and technological developments, with greater ease and less bureaucracy.
- The government’s forthcoming TCP should be based on the significant and growing body of evidence showing vaping to be an effective alternative for smokers looking to quit and should cement the concept of harm reduction, placing the U.K. as the global leader in tobacco harm reduction. Vaping is twice as effective as other nicotine-replacement therapies, such as gum and patches. Research from University College London has found that e-cigarettes, in one year alone, helped an additional 50,000–70,000 smokers in England quit. Despite the overwhelming and growing evidence in support of e-cigarettes, perceptions of harm from vaping among smokers are increasingly incorrect and out of line with the evidence. This is despite ONS data from Great Britain showing that over half of smokers want to quit.
- Misinformation and misperceptions about the relative risk of e-cigarettes must be challenged at every opportunity. To do so, the government must work with industry leaders to develop a series of policies that can help the vaping industry communicate directly with existing adult smokers. It is suggested that approved health claims and switching messages, alongside nicotine health warnings, should be available to vape manufacturers and retailers to communicate the facts about vaping. Such claims and messages could be used on both device and e-liquid packaging as well as on posters and leaflets. Similar proposals have been made by the governments of New Zealand and Canada.
- In light of the University of East Anglia’s study to trial e-cigarettes in NHS A&E departments, greater support is also needed for medical practitioners. The new TCP should support medical professionals by ensuring that clinicians are signposted to the latest clinical evidence on e-cigarettes and that local stop-smoking clinics adopt a consistent approach to the advice given to smokers looking to switch to less harmful alternatives and/or quit smoking combustible cigarettes.
“Whilst on one hand the current regulations and the existing TCP have allowed the vaping industry in the U.K. to flourish, on the other, they have hindered the ability of the vaping sector to promote vaping as an effective way of switching to a less harmful alternative, thereby preventing the government achieving the aims set out in the Tobacco Control Plan,” the UKVIA wrote. “Parliamentarians should therefore be advocating for fair and proportionate policies and regulations of e-cigarettes to help reduce inequalities and improve public health.”