UK Government consultation on vaping & related tobacco products

What is happening

The UK Government has launched its review of the Tobacco and Related Product Regulations (TRPR). These regulations were implemented in 2016 and are the UK’s version of the European Union’s Tobacco Products Directive. 

5 years after implementation, as mandated by law, these regulations are being reviewed to assess whether they have met the objectives which ultimately was to reduce smoking rates in the UK. 

The review of the TRPR will be in two stages. The first is a public consultation (launched on Friday 29th January) followed by a Government report outlining its recommended regulation changes.

A link to the consultation is here

Why is this important to vapers?

A review of TRPR means a review of the regulations that encompass vaping and nicotine products. 

The UK Government is supportive of vaping, however, pressure from other countries around the world and in particular the World Health Organisation could see the UK’s position change.

To show the UK Government that vaping matters, one of the strongest messages vapers can send is about how vaping has impacted your life, therefore it is essential that vapers use this review process effectively.

Public Consultation

The first part of the review process, the public consultation, will run for 7 weeks with a deadline for submissions on the 19th March 2021.

This consultation provides a unique opportunity to have your voice heard and to share your thoughts on how vaping should be regulated.

We Vape are here to support all vapers and ensure that your voices are heard and listened to by the Government. 

Therefore, We Vape has created a handy guide to the consultation questions relevant to vaping and some suggestions of what you might include in your response.

Questions 6, 7, 8, 9, and 13 are the most relevant to vapers. Feel free to leave the other answers blank and just hit the neither agree nor disagree button or if you have a view please do share it. 

Below is just some of the information you can consider including in each question should you so wish.

Question 6

How far do you agree or disagree that the current regulations on e-cigarettes have been proportionate in protecting young people from taking up the use of these products?

Suggested response: Disagree

Why: 

Question 7 

How far do you agree or disagree that the current regulations have ensured that e-cigarettes are available for those smokers who wish to switch to these products?

Suggested response: Agree

Why:

  • Current regulations have meant that e-cigarettes are available to smokers in both number and varying price levels, 
  • Stop Smoking Services/Local Authorities should be mandated to promote the use of e-cigarettes for those looking to quit.
  • Evidence and supportive statements towards vaping should be made more publicly available on a dedicated Government vaping facts website.
  • Some smokers do not have access to high enough nicotine strengths to help them quit.

Question 8

What effect do you think the regulations have had on smokers considering switching to e-cigarettes?

Suggested response: Discouraged

Why: 

  • Regulations have made it more difficult for vapers to make an informed decision about whether vaping is safer than smoking.
  • Lots of misinformation in the media about vaping deter smokers from switching. 
  • Health warnings on packs scare people, they are disproportionate to their actual risk.
  • Smokers currently overestimate the risk associated with vaping https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30609154/
  • People view nicotine as the problem, when it is not, and in fact combusted cigarettes.
  • Perceptions of harm – more smokers believe vaping is as harmful as smoking

Question 9

Do you consider the restrictions on e-cigarette advertising to be an effective way to discourage young people and non-smokers from using e-cigarettes?

Suggested response: Agree

Why: 

  • The current limitations on advertising strike a good balance between allowing smokers to access information and not encouraging young people and non-smokers to use e-cigarettes.
  • Enforcement of the existing regulations to ensure that companies are abiding by the regulations is vital.
  • If the advertising of e-cigarettes were made stricter then it would cut a vital information point for smokers to learn about these products.
  • The evidence already points to very few young people and non-smokers using these products. The evidence also points to a slow down in uptake by smokers, to ensure the UK continues to have one of the lowest smoking rates in Europe, information needs to be available through advertising. PHE March 2020 update https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/vaping-in-england-evidence-update-march-2020/vaping-in-england-2020-evidence-update-summary stated that “Less than 1% of young people who have never smoked are current vapers”
  • If anything the regulations go to far and should allow independent science from the likes of Public Health England about the relative safety of vaping in comparison to smoking to be advertised.

Question 13

Is there anything else you would like to share on negative or positive impacts the regulations have had on topics not covered above? If so, please explain and include any evidence and research you may have to back your response.

  • This is a good opportunity to tell the Government about your personal experiences as a vaper, how many cigarettes you used to smoke, how long you smoked for, how vaping helped you quit smoking, whether flavours helped you.
  • We feel that regulation itself is no bad thing, however, it should be proportionate to risk and should not lead to a situation in which cigarettes end up being supported by heavy-handed regulations on vaping. If we are to achieve a smoke-free 2030 the Government needs to be more proactive by having policies that will help smokers quit. Currently, it is not possible even to publicise independent scientific studies into vaping which show that it is 95% safer than smoking.