The ongoing e-cigarette inquiry has seen a number of relevant parties give oral evidence to the Science and Technology Committee in the House of Commons. However, no representative from the independent vaping sector had been invited to the previous sessions. This was until Fraser Cropper, Chair of the Independent British Vape Trade Association (IBVTA) presented evidence to the committee on the 9th May.
Fraser Cropper sat alongside John Dunne, UKVIA Director and Sarah Jakes, Chair of New Nicotine Alliance (NNA). You can view the full session on parliament live TV and the key take-outs are highlighted below.
Reviewing the TPD
All three witnesses present were in agreement that the TPD should be changed post Brexit. Sarah Jakes referred to the current legislative climate as a “regulatory dog’s dinner”.
Mr Cropper explained that ‘any future regulation must be based upon an appropriate risk assessment, which the TPD was not, and likely as a consequence will be a much more balanced regulation set that protects consumers from the limited risk but allows for the full potential of vaping to be delivered.’
The current product restrictions were also criticised for being counter-productive, whilst recognising that fluid stewardship and testing was a lonely positive to come out of the TPD.
When asked about the possibility of excise duty on e-cigarettes the response was resounding.
All witnesses agreed that there was no reason for any excess tax on vaping products. Fraser Cropper made the important point that to many, the significant cost saving of switching to vaping was a very important tangible ‘dividend’ to smokers who quit using vaping and this incentive must be maintained.
E-cigarettes on prescription?
The IBVTA’s position was clear on the possibility of prescribed vaping products. Fraser Cropper supported the position by explaining how important the ‘empowerment’ a vaper feels having taken personal responsibility for their smoking cessation and key influence of choice of many different variables which allows for the personalisation of a choice of vaping device and fluids.
However, it was recognised that there was a very important advocacy role the medical professionals can bring, by being more consistent and positive in the messaging surrounding vaping and have the confidence to recommend and work with the vaping industry to provide the best outcome for all who wish to quit with the aid of vaping.
Advertising regulations has been debated consistently throughout the e-cigarette inquiry. Currently, vaping companies cannot advertise their products or businesses using the majority of media – a de-facto ban on advertising. Nor can companies express the health benefits of switching to vaping even though these benefits are widely accepted by the public health organisations.
This was criticised by all three witnesses and was blamed by John Dunne for the inaccurate public perception of vaping.
Fraser Cropper added that, essentially vaping businesses had ‘one hand tied behind our back’ and that vaping businesses need to be allowed to promote responsibly their products and services, to support greater rates of switching and seizing smokers from the grasp of tobacco companies. He went on to add that the government should have the confidence and assurance that is supported by a regulated environment to allow for business to promote vaping in a responsible way.
Vaping in public spaces
Vaping in public spaces and the lack of a coherent approach taken by the respective proprietors was then discussed.
Sarah Jakes said: “The managers or owners of these public spaces are relying on the opinions of its customers and patrons.”
She explained that there needs to be a louder, clearer message from PHE to promote good policies for both private and public space owners and claimed that was down to laziness and suggested that working with companies such as TUC and ACAS would be beneficial.
Jakes also explained that good policy models should be produced so that companies don’t need to think too much about it.
It’s great to see the independent vape trade being allowed to have its say in the e-cigarette inquiry. The evidence that has been given in the inquiry has been very encouraging and we hope to see positive changes made as a result.