My Lords, in February 1996 I found myself under the surgeon’s knife, on the slab at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London, having a tumour on my lung removed, an operation in which I lost half of my lung capacity, making it impossible for me now to walk upstairs or walk any great distance. The reason for all this was that for 25 years I smoked cigarettes.
I only wish that these new inventions that now exist had been available to me. I tried hypnosis on Harley Street. I tried patches of different forms. I could not quite do cold turkey but I tried everything possible to stop smoking, and it was utterly impossible. Indeed, I had my last cigarette the night before they took out the tumour. That is how addicted I was to tobacco.
With that in mind and knowing of my particular difficulties, a gentleman in the north of England wrote me a letter. I want to bring the salient points of his correspondence to the attention of the House, because he manufactures the product in question. He says:
“we … have 3 Shops and 6 employees … we are manufacturing the eliquid that is used in the devices. We have sold thousands of these devices locally”— that is to say, in the north of England—
“and helped so many people make the switch. This has been such a rewarding and positive part of the business for myself and staff who still love helping people to remove a lifelong use of tobacco and improve their health”.
If those listening to my contribution this evening can hear my heavy breathing, that is the result of the operation that took place as a result of smoking all those years ago.
In his letter, that gentleman says that the two millilitre tank size restriction is pointless and restricts future product development. I wonder if the Minister might deal with these matters in the wind-up, if he is able, because some of this is technical. Perhaps he could write to me with a greater explanation.
The manufacturer says that limiting nicotine strength to 20 milligrams per millilitre is counterproductive as it removes the 24 milligram strength which is essential to lots of new switchers. He says the restriction of bottle size to 10 millilitres is pointless as much more hazardous household products are available in much bigger sizes. The popular size for cost-effectiveness and suitability is 30 millilitres, and bottles of 100 millilitres are available too. People can average, he tells me, 10 millilitres per day liquid usage, so a restriction on supply there is again counterproductive.
There will be a restrictive cost in introducing new products to the market. Remember, this man is a manufacturer. He says he will be classed as a producer when importing goods from outside the European Union, with MHRA notification and testing costs implications to bear. Therefore, a lot of suitable and effective products will be removed from the market. He says:
“We are looking at having to find the Cost of Emissions & Toxicology data requested per flavour SKU for our own manufactured liquids. This is estimated at £5,000 each per flavour, of which we have 20, plus Notification & data submissions for any variables of strength would also be required. Our business model could be changed from a manufacturer to a retailer with loss of jobs & future investment stifled if we are unable to bear the cost of this directive’s implementation. We can already see a burgeoning black market which the TPD (Article 20) will encourage. Individuals are now making eliquid at home & selling to whoever they please, with no testing done or age restrictions adhered to or tax paid”.
I would have thought that that is particularly relevant in this debate. He says:
“This is not a tobacco product and should not be classed as such. Doing so is disingenuous & misleading with implications for people’s health. We hope you can recognize the huge potential to save millions of lives & the health revolution this presents … to governments the world over”.
I hope the Government will find a way of re-examining these regulations. Potentially, we could do a lot of damage to a lot of people.