A House of Commons inquiry on Tuesday heard evidence on the health impacts, regulatory challenges and financial considerations surrounding vaping in the U.K., giving experts another chance to counter common criticisms of the technology.
The Commons Science and Technology Committee met with Prof. Riccardo Polosa, Prof. Peter Hajek, Dr. Jamie Brown and other academics for a detailed look into what we know about vaping. The inquiry was roundly positive, with experts stressing the vastly safer nature of vaping in comparison to smoking and the usefulness of vapes for helping smokers quit, and offering insight into the reasons underlying the continuing media hysteria on the topic.
The inquiry was launched to address concerns about the mixed messages surrounding vaping, and in particular to address the gaps in our knowledge about their risks and how e-cigs should be regulated.
Norman Lamb, the Lib Dem MP who chairs the committee explained, “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 U.K.’s public finances.”
In addition to the live testimony, there were over 80 written submissions for the committee to consider, by everyone from industry associations to tobacco companies, pharmaceutical companies, professors, universities, charities (including the New Nicotine Alliance), vaping companies and interested individuals.
It should come as no surprise that these are a mixed bag. On one hand, you have detailed, well-argued and evidence-based submissions like those from Clive Bates, the Royal College of Physiciansand Cancer Research UK (among many others). On the other hand you have the expected obfuscations and usual anti-vaping rhetoric from the likes of Martin McKee, Pfizer and one referenced in the hearing from Dr. Robert Combes and Professor Michael Balls.
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