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It’s a safe bet that no change will come from the latest vaping petition in the UK

UK vapers have been asked to support a new e-petition to demonstrate the level of opposition to a flavour ban.

It’s not the first time a vaping petition has attracted attention, but the number of signatures this one has garnered so far – 40,000 and counting – makes it easily the most popular.

Surely that’s a good thing, even if it is less than halfway to the 100,000 threshold needed for a petition to be considered by the UK Petitions Committee, which decides whether petitions should be subject to a debate in Parliament.

This is an important distinction. It is often stated that a petition that collects 100,000 signatures must be debated by Parliament. But in fact, it only must be considered by the committee. There is no guarantee that it will actually be debated.

Even if the flavour petition was to get to that level, be considered favourably by the committee and feature in a debate on the parliamentary floor, there is no chance of anything coming of it. In the entirety of the current version of the UK parliamentary website there have been exactly zero petitions that have achieved any change in government policy whatsoever. Nada. Nought. Zilch. Not one has seen any reversal of course on any subject.


Getting something out of nothing

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    So what exactly is the point of it all if it just ends up, to quote the Talking Heads lyric, the same as it ever was? Well, one commentator argues that the direct result of a petition is less important than demonstrating representative democracy in action.

    A petition may not directly result in a change in policy, but it may still act as a lightning conductor, exposing issues that have stirred public sentiment and energy. These in turn may influence some members of Parliament (MPs) – particularly those new in seats or in marginal constituencies – to keep the subject in the back of their mind.

    It appears that’s about it, though. According to the commentator, “an empirical study published in 2020 found that e-petitions … have ‘essentially’ no effect ‘for MPs who hold government or opposition frontbench positions’.”

    It should be said that a ban proposal is by no means a ban guarantee, but it’s also perhaps not quite as remote a possibility as it once was. But no matter the UK government’s thoughts on the future of non-tobacco flavours in e-liquids, the situation is likely to remain the same whether or not the 40,000+ signatures double, treble or go even higher.

    The UK government will press forward with its policy regardless.

    – Freddie Dawson ECigIntelligence staff

    Photo: Keenan Constance

    Freddie Dawson

    Managing editor, news
    Freddie studied at King’s College, London and City University and worked for publications including The Times, The Malay Mail, PathfinderBuzz and Solar Summary before joining the ECigIntelligence team. He has extensive experience in covering fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), manufacturing and technological innovation.