In October 2017 MPs were to carry out an E-cigarette inquiry. Claiming there are “significant gaps” in knowledge and how they’re regulated. Since the announcement, the Science and Technology Committee have been accepting written evidence to “examine the impact of electronic cigarettes on human health (including their effectiveness as a stop-smoking tool), the suitability of regulations guiding their use, and the financial implications of a growing market on both business and the NHS.”

Written Evidence

The Committee has received a considerable amount of written evidence from a wide range of organisations and professionals. A number of Public Health experts, anti-smoking campaign groups, commercial businesses and City Councils have all made submissions. This variety of contributors shows the wide scope of interest and allows the committee to analyse a range of different perspectives.

There has now been over 80 pieces of written evidence submitted and a particularly in-depth publication was from The IBVTA. This evidence didn’t go unnoticed as Matt Ridley picked key points and used them in a recent article, published in The Times, titled Don’t let this British success go up in smoke.

Professor Riccardo Polosa and Professor Peter Hajek have also provided written evidence. In the first E-cigarette Inquiry session, which took place on Tuesday 9th January in the House of Commons, these two public health experts were present to answer the Committee’s questions and present their findings.

Professor Riccardo Polosa’s Toast Demonstration

One of the important points of the E-cigarette Inquiry is to dispel the misinformed news stories that surrounds vaping. Riccardo Polosa aimed to do this with a short demonstration. Polosa first brandished a ‘nice, golden crispy piece of toast, which everyone is going to like’. He then displayed a burnt piece of toast, ‘full of  nasty chemicals including carcinogenic aldehyde’. 

Riccardo Polosa toast demonstration


This presentation’s purpose was to demonstrate the flaws in e-cigarette studies. Polosa explains that many of the findings, in studies which show e-cigarettes as having negative effects, come as a result of the device being misused in the experimentation. This is a great analogy from Polosa which helps to simplify a complicated matter and explains that the results are misleading due to unrealistic usage conditions.

Polosa also covered a number of other topics. The threat of passive vaping has been disproved through a number of different studies. He enforced this point during the session. He also explained his own recent long term study which showed no reduction in the lung function of vapers over a 3 and a half year period.

Professor Peter Hajek had his say

Professor Peter Hajek was also well prepared to answer the Committee’s queries regarding e-cigarettes. Hajek opposes the gateway effect. He explained that e-cigarettes with nicotine are “spectacularly unattractive” to non-smokers. The dismissal of the gateway theory is reiterated by both Polosa and Professor Paul Aveyard.

Peter Hajek


Hajek also discussed nicotine. Looking at the differences between the approach to nicotine in the UK and the US. The views on e-cigarettes in the US focus much more heavily on nicotine and addictiveness rather than health benefits. Hajek suggests this is why the US sees youth uptake of vaping as more of an issue than the UK.

The other experts present at the session were Professor Mark Conner, Professor in Applied Social Psychology, Dr Lion Shahab, Senior Lecturer Health Psychology, University College London, Dr Jamie Brown, Deputy Director, Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group University College London, and Professor Paul Aveyard, Co-ordinating Editor, The Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group.

All of the witnesses provided a good insight into e-cigarettes. Thy covered a range of topics from regulation to health benefits to smoking cessation. The evidence provided by the professionals was overall very positive. Hopefully contributing to a positive stance being taken by the Committee during the inquiry.

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