Electronic cigarettes were debated in the House of Lords last week and there were a surprising number of common sense questions being asked. It’s clear from the House of Lords point of view that the whole Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), which comes into force in May, is just a clear case of European meddling, bureaucracy and short sightedness.
The first question was raised by Viscount Ridley, who is known for his pro vaping views and last year called Article 20 an ‘idiotic attack on vaping’. He pulled no punches in his barrage of questions and asked the Parliamentary Under-secretary of State for Health:
“Given that the prime minister said that one million people had given up smoking as a result of taking up vaping, including I believe my noble friend Lord Brabazon of Tara, and given that the public health benefits of this are something in the order of 74 billion pounds, and given that the main losers from this are the pharmaceutical industry who are seeing falls in the sales of patches and gums, does he agree with me that the pharmaceutical lobbying may be behind the attempt to regulate these products too heavily, and possibly to shackle them with an excise tax, and could he give an estimate on the size of the black market that is likely to result from this directive, and whether or not it will result in people going back to smoking? “
I’m sure vapers across the country cheered the Viscount as he asked this question, but typical of politics, a straight answer wouldn’t be forthcoming. But the reply was a positive one for vapers, with the Under-secretary stating that:
“The benefits of e cigarettes are well understood, and the figure that one million people have given up smoking by using e cigarettes is a valid, true figure.”
He also goes on to say there are no plans to add an excise tax on e cigarette products.
The house then comes alive with other Lords giving their opinion on the TPD, and how farcical and even cynical the whole affair is.
Even the name checked Lord Brabazon of Tara chimed in, saying:
“I am one of those that smoked for many, many years and haven’t had a cigarette now for two years because I’ve taken up using one of these devices. Can my noble friend tell me why these devices are included in the Tobacco Products Directive at all, because they’re not a tobacco product?”
That’s the crux of the matter right there, and the question that raises the most conspiracy theories. We saw last month how Shawn Thomas forced the City of New York to agree that smoking isn’t vaping, and overturned his prosecution for ‘vaping’ in a no ‘smoking’ area.
The whole debate in the House of Lords is enjoyable to watch and it’s clear there’s still a lot of common sense being spoken in the UK, even in the antiquated House of Lords. The problem for vaping in the UK lies mainly with Europe. If, when the Brexit referendum goes ahead, the UK decides to leave Europe, then technically we won’t be tied to the TPD. But if vaping companies want to trade with Europe they’ll still need to adhere to the rules set out in the TPD.
How it’s all going to eventually pan out is still unclear, but it’s heartening to see some straight talking on the subject. Even though the Lords may be powerless to do anything about the TPD, By Jove they’ll air their opinion. And for once it makes a lot of sense!
You can watch the full debate here: