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UK Parliamentary Committee Calls for Vaping Regulations to Recognise their Potential

The UK Science and Technology committee has published a report today concluding that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful than conventional cigarettes and are too often being overlooked as a stop smoking tool. The Science and Technology Committee, a cross-party body of MPs, opened the inquiry in October last year examine the evolving debate around vaping and heated tobacco products.

The report calls on the UK Government to consider risk-based regulation to allow more freedom to advertise e-cigarettes as the relatively less harmful option. The committee also believes there should be financial incentives, in the form of lower levels of taxation, for smokers to swap from cigarettes to less harmful alternatives such as e-cigarettes. To further support smokers switching to vapour products, the group propose a reconsideration of vapour products in public places, noting that all too often e-cigarettes are incorrectly subjected to the same controls as cigarettes. Other recommendations include revising the limits on refill strengths and tank sizes to make vapour products more effective for smokers, as well as the approval systems for stop smoking therapies such as e-cigarettes.

The committee also feels the availability of proven alternative products such as Swedish snus should form part of the tobacco harm reduction strategy.

This follows their inquiry, at which Imperial Brands representative Grant O’Connell presented evidence on scientific testing and research and development on e-cigarettes and heated tobacco, alongside representatives from other e-cigarette manufacturers.

Commenting on the report Grant said: "We've long argued that e-cigarettes are a less harmful alternative for adult smokers and that claims they were a 'gateway' to conventional smoking simply didn't stand up to scrutiny.

"Currently, 40 per cent of UK smokers haven't even tried vaping and adopting a more progressive approach to advertising would improve education around the benefits of vaping. These advertising restrictions are currently the primary barrier to smokers trialling a less harmful alternative to combustible tobacco."

We made a submission to the original consultation in 2017 detailing all our views, which can be found here. All the written evidence has been made publicly available on The UK Science and Technology Committee’s website.