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Inquiry launched into safety and regulation of e-cigarettes

The Science and Technology Committee is to examine the impact of electronic cigarettes on human health and the suitability of regulations guiding their use.

By Stephanie Otty | Published: 25th October 2017 News Updates

Norman Lamb MP, Chair, said:

"Almost 3 million people in the UK now use e-cigarettes, but there are still significant gaps in the research guiding their regulation and sale. They are seen by some as valuable tools that will reduce the number of people smoking ‘conventional’ cigarettes, and seen by others as ‘re-normalising’ smoking for the younger generation.

"We want to understand where the gaps are in the evidence base, the impact of the regulations, and the implications of this growing industry on NHS costs and the UK's public finances."

E-cigarette regulations

New rules for nicotine-containing electronic cigarettes and refill containers were introduced in May 2016 by the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016, implementing the EU Tobacco Products Directive. In July 2017, the Government published its Tobacco Control Plan.

It emphasised that the Department of Health would be monitoring the impact of e-cigarette regulations, while Public Health England would continue to provide evidence-based guidance on what is known, and unknown, about the risks of e-cigarettes relative to smoking.

Conventional smoking fell to 7.6 million adult smokers in the UK (16%) in 2016. The use of e-cigarettes has risen to an estimated 2.9 million adults, up from 0.7m in 2012.

Submitting written evidence

Submit written evidence via the e-cigarettes inquiry page.

The Committee would welcome written submissions by Friday 8 December 2017 on the health, regulatory and financial implications of e-cigarettes that address the following points:

On health:

The impact on human health of e-cigarettes—themselves and relative to ‘conventional’ smoking—and any gaps in the science knowledge-base in this area.

The benefits and risks of e-cigarettes as a ‘stop smoking’ tool, any gaps in the knowledge-base on this, and whether any approaches are needed to tackle e-cigarette addiction.

The uptake of e-cigarettes among young people and evidence on whether e-cigarettes play a role in ‘re-normalising’ smoking.

On regulation:

Whether there is any regulatory variation between the EU and UK, and across UK nations, and the implications of Brexit on regulation in this area.

The effectiveness of regulation on the advertising and marketing of e-cigarettes.

The impact to date of the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations on the vaping industry and on the prevalence of e-cigarettes.

The safety of e-cigarette devices, and any safety regulation requirements.

On finance:

The economic impact of the UK’s e-cigarette industry.

The public finances implications of e-cigarettes, including how the rise in e-cigarette consumption could affect NHS costs.

The Committee would also like to hear views on whether Government policy and regulation has kept up with the full range of ‘smoking’ and novel tobacco products (such as ‘heat not burn’) that are becoming available to the public, and if it takes account of their likely impact on human health.