My Lords, I refer to my interests in the register, perhaps particularly that until last month I was chair of the board of science for the British Medical Association.
The Motion from the noble Lord, Lord Callanan, states that the regulations,
“run counter to advice from the Royal College of Physicians to promote vaping and … that they could force vapers back to smoking”.
Noble Lords should be aware that the Royal College of Physicians does not support the Motion. The Royal College of Physicians, together with ASH, the BMA, Cancer UK, the Royal Society for Public Health and the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies all support the TRPR, including the regulation of e-cigarettes. Yes, medical organisations such as the RCP and the BMA recognise the substantial harm reduction offered by e-cigarettes, but they also conclude that they are not harmless—both identify the need for regulation of e-cigarettes to protect the public.
Noble Lords may have received some very inaccurate briefings, making some assertions that are just not substantiated by the evidence. For example, “nicotine itself is not dangerous”. It is just not true. It is both toxic and addictive. Although vaping using electronic cigarettes is much less harmful than smoking, nicotine is toxic. It is also not helpful if you are going to have surgery. It is not helpful when it is swallowed. It is harmful when it is in contact with the skin, and its addictive properties, for me as a psychiatrist, are particularly of concern.
It is just not true that the limits of 20 milligrams per millilitre will force many vapers to return to smoking. Use of high-strength nicotine is not the norm, and vapers who need more nicotine can get it by vaping more frequently.
It is not true that the regulations mean no advertising. Substantial forms of advertising would still be permitted under the regulations—at point of sale, on billboards, on buses, as inserts in printed media and as product information on websites. Furthermore, the ASH/YouGov results show that more than 90% of smokers are now aware of e-cigarettes, so existing smokers already know about vaping. It is the non-smokers, whom we do not want to become addicted to nicotine, who are not so aware.