UK MPs Quiz Experts On Vaping In Pregnancy

Science And Technology Committee Get To Grips With Tricky Issues Around Vaping

In yet another meeting of the Science and Technology Committee UK MPs have gathered more evidence around the use of e-cigarettes.

This time they targeted specific groups looking at issues around vaping whilst pregnant – the use of e-cigarettes in mental health hospitals and prisons.

The committee – made up of cross-party MPs – is currently taking oral evidence from experts around all aspects of vaping.

This is the third time they’ve sat with experts – including those from Big Tobacco – you can read my coverage of the previous committee sessions below:

  • Big Tobacco Tells UK MPs Short Fills Are A Health Concern
  • Experts Lecture UK MPs On The Positive Benefits Of E-Cigarettes

OK as always the debate was split into two sessions and took evidence from:

  • Michelle Jarman-Howe, Executive Director, Public Sector Prisons South
  • Heather Thomson, Smoke-free Lead, Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
  • Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive, Action on Smoking and Health [ASH]
  • Hazel Cheeseman, Director of Policy, Action on Smoking and Health

The committee also touched on the sensitive subject of Heat Not Burn products which I’ll get into later.

Smoke Free Prisons and Use Of E-Cigarettes

The prison service has been working towards becoming ‘smoke free’ for the last couple of years and MPs were interested in hearing how that had been implemented – the effect it had had on discipline and how e-cigarettes were playing a part in the policy.

Michelle Jarman-Howe is responsible for all of England’s prisons geographically below the Midlands and said that of the 102 ‘closed‘ [as in secure prisons] 96 were now smoke free with those left mainly in the Greater London area banning smoking as of next week.

In open prisons there are still designated smoking areas however this too is under scrutiny.

Back in 2016 the prison service introduced ‘disposable e-cigarettes‘ – similar to cig-a-likes I guess – to good effect and has recently brought in the more popular re-chargeable vape devices.

A quick note here – I’m assuming the tamper proof vape devices she’s discussing are coming from e:burn a UK company that is the only one approved by the prison service and suitable for secure mental hospitals.

Incidentally I contacted them a while ago for an interview and indeed how to get samples for review – sadly I have had no reply.

As to any issues around implementation and any problems with prisoners rebelling against the smoking ban she said:

The reality has been that, while there have been some low-level local issues, as you might expect during any policy change, we have not had any significant issues of disorder that are entirely related to smoking.

It is far more likely that, where we have had incidents of any type, if smoking has been a factor, it has been one of a number of contributory factors.

We have not lost in prisons as a result of introducing non-smoking, for example.

A number of prisoners have and are taking the prison service to court over the smoking ban because as they are classed as part of the Crown Estate they should be excluded.

However none of the legal actions have been successful.

She also told MPs that both prison staff and indeed prisoners say the air ‘feels fresher‘ and she plans to conduct more detailed air quality studies.



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