UK: In a House of Commons debate today on health inequalities, Labour MP Andrew Gwynne asked if the government was going to deliver a number of promised health-related strategies, including the tobacco control plan. Conservative Bob Blackman also asked when the plan would be delivered. Without giving specifics, junior health minister Neil O’Brien replied: “Whatever format our next steps forward are set out in, we will be pushing forward very quickly and aggressively on this.” He added that the government was also supporting “a future medically licensed vaping product as a quitting aid” and would be “pressing forward at the greatest speed”.
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UK: The Office for National Statistics yesterday published its annual dataset on the proportion of adults in Great Britain who use e-cigarettes. The figures for daily vapers in 2021 were up on those in 2020 for both men (4.7% to 6.4%) and women (3% to 3.5%). The number of daily vapers who were not smoking increased for men from 0.5% in 2020 to 1.2% in 2021, but fell among women from 0.5% to 0.2%.
UK: Rebecca Pow, junior minister with responsibility for waste and resources, yesterday told a backbench debate on the environmental impact of disposable vapour products that the government had no immediate plans to ban disposables, but that it was concerned about their increased availability and improper disposal. “We are reviewing the current producer responsibility system for waste electricals and batteries, and plan to publish consultations on both areas next year,” Pow said. She said the current Waste Electric and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations were developed when the vaping industry was in its infancy, so the government would consider if the legislation required amendment to ensure that the vaping sector played its part in properly financing the cost of collection and treatment of the products when they become waste.
UK: Research commissioned by the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) shows that in 2021 the UK vaping industry directly contributed £401m and 8,215 full-time jobs, or equivalent, to the economy. It also found that the total saving in healthcare costs as a result of smokers switching to vaping in 2019 was £322m. UKVIA director general John Dunne said: “We hope the publication of this economic impact assessment will give politicians, regulators and health professionals the hard data to allow them to support vaping even more.”
UK: Asked if and when the long-anticipated Tobacco Control Plan might be published, junior health minister Lord Markham told the Lords (Parliament’s upper house) the government was “taking stock” of whether a fresh tobacco control plan was the best way to respond to the recommendations in the Khan review. The same view was shared a few days earlier in the House of Commons by junior minister Neil O’Brien, bringing into question the future of the plan.
UK: Warwickshire Trading Standards officers have carried out test purchases of e-cigarettes at 13 vape stores, using a 15-year-old volunteer, the county council has reported. All retailers asked for ID, but at one store, which remains under investigation, a sale “was nearly made”.
UK: Oxfordshire County Council announced yesterday that two businesses in the county had been prosecuted for selling disposable e-cigarettes to children, following investigations by Trading Standards officers. One store was fined £666 and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £67 and the council’s full costs of £2,124. The other was fined £600 and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £60 and a contribution of £1,000 towards the council’s costs. A third retailer is due in court in January over selling an e-cigarette to a minor and for continuing to sell e-cigarettes in non–compliant packaging following a warning.
UK: Tower Hamlets Council in London has announced the seizure by Trading Standards officers of 8,817 g of “illicit banned smokeless tobacco” as well as 640 counterfeit and “potentially dangerous” e-cigarettes that exceeded the nicotine cap.
UK: West Northamptonshire Council has announced that Trading Standards carried out test purchases in eight vape shops in October. Six shops correctly asked for ID and refused a sale to a 16-year-old girl when she could not produce any, while two shops didn’t. The two retailers now face further investigation. This follows previous inspections in April and August when two out of 18 shops visited sold e-cigarettes to a 16-year-old girl.
UK: Barking and Dagenham Council has reported the seizure of over 500 illicit disposable vapour products from two local shops by the London borough’s Trading Standards department. Both retailers were given written warnings and will continue to be monitored by council officers, with the threat of prosecution if they carry on selling the products.
UK: Stoke-on-Trent City Council has announced that its Trading Standards team has seized 5,000 illegal e-cigarettes, worth around £66,000, since April. It said the confiscated products exceeded the 2 ml tank volume limit – equivalent to “approximately 650 puffs” – and were incorrectly labelled. Councillor Carl Edwards, cabinet member for housing and environment, said: “Our team regularly carry out inspections and test purchases to check that premises are following their legal requirements.”
UK: Junior health minister Neil O’Brien has told MPs that the Department of Health and Social Care works with the Department of Education on communications to schools to prevent children from taking up vaping. “To raise awareness of the risks of vaping to children, we have updated information and advice online at the Better Health and Talk to Frank platforms,” O’Brien said.
UK: Junior health minister Neil O’Brien has said the Department of Health and Social Care is still considering the recommendations made in the Khan review, including those related to vaping. “We are also exploring how to support healthcare professionals to provide accurate information on the benefits of switching to vaping,” added O’Brien.
UK: Answering a parliamentary question, Trudy Harrison, junior minister for the environment, food and rural affairs, said the department had not undertaken an assessment of the environmental impact of disposable e-cigarettes.
UK: According to the parliamentary agenda, the publication of the government’s Tobacco Control Plan will be discussed in the House of Lords on 23rd November.
UK: Northumbria Police has announced the seizure of 180 non-compliant vapour products in Newcastle and Gateshead. This was part of a wider inspection carried out together with Trading Standards officers after the police received a tip-off – though they did not specify what made the seized products illegal.
UK: New prime minister Rishi Sunak has reappointed Steve Barclay as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, a role he previously held from 5th July to 6th September this year. The UK Vaping Industry Association said it was imperative that Barclay “reinstates the Health Disparities White Paper and commits to the publication of the Tobacco Control Plan this year, building on the Khan Review”.
UK: Junior health minister Caroline Johnson said yesterday that the government had not made an assessment of the potential merits of increasing the level of fines for under-age sales of e-cigarettes. Under the regulations, if an individual is found guilty of selling nicotine inhaling products to anyone under 18, they may be fined up to £2,500. Johnson added that the recommendations made in the Khan review were still under consideration, including measures to prevent young people and non-smokers from starting to vape.
UK: Junior health minister Caroline Johnson has said the Department of Health and Social Care is considering the recommendations made in the Khan review. This would include measures to help smokers switch to vaping, such as introducing positive messaging via packaging inserts and amending front labelling on nicotine vaping products. “The Department will continue to gather evidence on the potential merits of these measures and further information will be available in due course,” Johnson said, without addressing rumours that the department was planning to abandon its Tobacco Control Plan.
UK: The long-awaited tobacco control plan may not be published after all, press reports. After its publication was delayed under the previous Conservative cabinet, there are now fears that new health secretary Thérèse Coffey will give up on it altogether. This follows an interview in which Coffey said she doesn’t have a personal view on smokefree policies.
UK: The City of York Council has launched a campaign until the end of the year, offering free support as well as free patches, gum and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) to young people aged 12-17 who vape or smoke.
UK: Asked about packaging restrictions on e-cigarettes, junior health minister Caroline Johnson said the Department of Health and Social Care was exploring whether any additional measures could be introduced to prevent children from vaping, including restrictions related to packaging. The Tobacco Control Plan which could set out these proposals is yet to be published.
UK - Scotland: The Scottish government published a report yesterday on the findings from the consultation on proposed restrictions on e-cigarette advertising . A total of 757 responses were submitted, mostly by individuals. The respondents were nearly equally divided on all issues: 51.5% opposed further restrictions on advertising, while 50.7% agreed that the use of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool should be limited and that exposure to them by non-smokers should be restricted.
UK: The consultation on the voluntary standard developed by the British Standards Institution (BSI), PAS 8855, on vape product quality, performance and safety issues ends today, 28th September.
UK: Answering a question about the management of e-cigarette waste, London mayor Sadiq Khan said Londoners can recycle waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) at their local household waste recycling centre and that waste bins for small electrical devices had been introduced in communal bin stores, resulting in a 52% reduction in small electricals going into non-recycled waste from London flats. Lastly, Khan noted that all boroughs are encouraged to include the Flats Recycling Package in their reduction and recycling plans.
UK: Unofficial Elf Bar social media accounts that allegedly target minors had a 15% increase in followers between March and September, rising from 557,960 to over 650,000, according to Vape Club data reported by the media. However, the number of unofficial Elf Bar accounts selling the devices on TikTok has decreased from 205 in March to 53 in September. For the past year, ECigIntelligence has repeatedly reported on increased oversight of the market by Trading Standards.
UK: The National Health Service (NHS) today published figures showing that 9% of 11- to 15-year-olds vape, either regularly or occasionally, a 50% increase since 2018. A similar result was reported earlier this summer by the charity Action on Smoking and Health (Ash). At the same time, the NHS reports that 3% of pupils are current cigarette smokers, down from 5% in 2018.
UK: Responding to MPs’ questions about e-cigarettes and young people, junior health minister Maggie Throup said the Department of Health and Social Care is considering banning cartoon characters, images and flavour names which might be appealing to children. Throup added that the department was working with the Environment Agency to remind vape suppliers who place more than five tonnes of products on the UK market per year that they are obliged to register with the waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) producer compliance scheme.