E-cigarettes face House of Commons inquiry

E-cigarettes face House of Commons inquiry

The Science and Technology Committee of the House of Commons has today launched an inquiry into e-cigarettes.

The inquiry will look at the impact of the devices 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.

The committee’s chairman, Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb, said: "Almost three 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."

According to the committee, the number of smokers in the UK fell to 7.6 million last year – 16% of the adult population. There were 2.9 million vapers, meanwhile – more than four times the number (700,000) in 2012.

The Committees of Advertising Practice liberalised rules around e-cigarette advertising in 2014, allowing people to be shown vaping on screen.

But the European Union’s Tobacco Products Directive, which came into force last year, completely banned TV, radio, print and online display advertising, alongside new manufacturing and packaging restrictions.

A review published in 2015 by Public Health England suggested that vaping was around 95% less harmful than smoking tobacco.

Another study from Public Health England, published this August, found that fears e-cigarettes could be acting as a gateway to smoking for teenagers were unfounded.

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