Great Progress In Parliament
May 25, 2016 — Dear Friends,
There were a series of important meetings in Parliament yesterday in which senior Labour and Conservative politicians were discussing how to remove the vaping regulations from the TPD. Both sides have been highly impressed with your campaign - especially your fabulous personalised letters to peers. The critical Lords vote is expected in the week commencing 6 June. We will be asking you to write to peers again in the run up to that.
For now the politicians are urging us to focus on influencing the Department of Health by asking you to encourage your MP to write to the Health Minister Jane Ellison.
All you have to do is three things:
STEP ONE: Find the email address of your MP through www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/
STEP TWO: Use the bullet points below to devise your respectful letter to your MP
STEP THREE: Hit send!
Your Letter To Your MP
a) say that you live in their constituency and give them your address
b) explain that you are writing about the legislation before Parliament that would enforce the Tobacco Products Directive
c) say how you think it could harm Britain’s 2.8 million vapers
d) give your personal story about how vaping has helped you
e) say that there is a vital two weeks to act during which the legislation can be blocked in the House of Lords
f) ask them to write a letter to the Health Minister, Jane Ellison, and offer the draft below for them to use
You will be aware that the e-cigarettes regulations before Parliament are subject to a fatal motion in the Lords.
A central objective of your role is to protect public health by reducing the smoking epidemic. Last Sunday’s BBC Horizon programme added to the growing evidence already provided to you by the Royal College of Physicians and Public Health England that vaping is far safer than smoking and is providing a gateway out of tobacco use for millions. E-cigarettes should be the centrepiece of your strategy not something which the Department of Health obstructs.
For instance it is very difficult to explain to my constituents why the Department last Friday brought in a ban on e-cigarette advertising a month after the Royal College of Physicians urged you to “promote e-cigarettes widely.”
There are 2.8 million vapers nationally which means there are around 4,300 in my constituency. They are increasingly aware that your Department’s own impact assessment outlined serious problems with the TPD's e-cigarette regulations:
a) “There is a risk that due to the potential price increase and reduction of choice of e-cigarettes, people will choose to switch back to smoking” (paragraph 207)
b) the number of e-cigarette products on the market could fall 96% from 25,000 to 1,000 (Annex B page 74)
c) “There is a risk that a black market will develop with potentially harmful e-cigarette products” (paragraph 208)
d) “if users can’t get the desired nicotine level from e-cigarettes they may switch to cigarettes” (paragraph 200)
Of deepest concern is the plight of the 252,000 e-cigarette users who use the stronger nicotine levels which your Department is planning to ban with no solution other than smoking or the black market. This is unconscionable. Emergency measures must be introduced to protect them.
The complete lack of political support for these e-cigarette regulations was revealed by your colleague Lord Prior of Brampton who told the House of Lords that he hoped that “enforcement would be more Italian than traditionally British.”
I also note that two years ago Jeremy Corbyn described the e-cigarette regulations as “perverse” and two weeks ago his shadow health minister Lord Hunt of Kings Heath said that he could not understand why e-cigarettes had been included in the Directive.
Our constituents will ask why given the gravity of these measures they have never been debated on the floor of the House of Commons.
We have to demonstrate to our constituents that the political process in Westminster and Brussels is responsive when mistakes have been made. The Department of Health has been poor in dealing with e-cigarettes: Lord Prior said that without the moderating influence of Brussels our regulations could have been “far worse.”
It is disturbing that your officials are still briefing about the need “to protect children from the dangers of nicotine” when there is no evidence of children being lured into tobacco use through vaping and the health risks are almost entirely from the inhalation of tobacco smoke not the nicotine.
It is time for your Department to take the lead during this critical fortnight in which faults in the current SI can be dealt with. I know that ASH are lobbying MPs for the SI to remain unchanged and am also aware that they receive a £200,000 DH grant.
I ask you to make an announcement to the House on what measures you are taking to prevent this turning into a public health catastrophe which would last until the next Tobacco Products Directive is implemented in around 2026.
xxxx xxxx MP
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