Email to Richard Graham MP (Gloucester) regarding the TPD Article 20 and Lords Challenge

This is the email that I sent to +Richard Graham earlier. I would ask you to do the same with your MP, write a personal letter to this effect.

Dear Richard Graham,

As you doubtless know I live in your constituency at 18 Stonehenge Road, Gloucester, GL4 6BJ.

I am writing to you about the legislation that is before Parliament regarding transposition and enforcement of the Tobacco Products Directive Article 20 into UK law as part of The Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016.

As I've communicated previously, my family and I have benefited greatly from my switching to electronic cigarettes (vaping) 6 years ago. Since then we have seen great strides in product improvement in terms of quality, safety and effectiveness. The switching of smokers to vaping in the UK has never been higher and we lead the world in research and policy on the benefits of smokers switching.

Policies and reports from Public Health England, The Royal College of Physicians, The National Centre for Smoking Cessation Training (NCSCT), UK Centre for Tobacco & Alcohol Studies (UKCTAS), Cancer Research UK, the British Lung Foundation and others all state that this product is a massive potential health benefit for the UK and globally. And with those health benefits come massive financial savings to healthcare as well as great SME business growth.

However the TPD Article 20 will stifle and likely destroy those benefits. Why? Because they effectively prevent cross border trade within and outside the EU and have resulted in varying tariffs and registration costs being imposed by the various member states, in some cases in excess of €5000 per item.

The regulations also impose device (2ml) and container (10ml) "safety" regulations that are based on factually incorrect data around the toxicity of nicotine in excess of twenty times smaller than the real figure. This issue was raised repeatedly with the EU and ignored. These restrictions increase the chance of relapse as users will be forced to carry more bottles and refill more often, risking spillage which the regulation is supposed to prevent.

The regulations also impose a liquid strength limit of 20mg/ml, again based on the fallacious nicotine toxicity level. It is not uncommon for users to require 24mg or 36mg liquid (including some members of the House of Lords). This will result in many smokers being unable to quit/switch and again, this is a risk to relapse as users may not receive the dosages required.

Finally the regulations have introduced truly disproportionate restrictions on advertising, forbidding cross border advertising, TV and Radio as well as banning all forms of electronic advertising. I'm confident I do not need to explain to you the terrible impact this will have on uptake by existing smokers or indeed the multitude of UK SMEs who will likely cease to trade.

The next two weeks are a vital stage at which the legislation can be blocked in the House of Lords by Lord Callanans "Fatal Motion".

I therefore formally ask that you write to the Health Minister, Jane Ellison, with the questions raised in the outline letter below. I would also ask for your support personally in this matter.

"Dear Minister,

You will be aware that the e-cigarettes regulations before Parliament are subject to a fatal motion in the Lords.
A central objective of your role is to protect public health by reducing the smoking epidemic. Last Sunday’s BBC Horizon programme added to the growing evidence already provided to you by the Royal College of Physicians and Public Health England that vaping is far safer than smoking and is providing a gateway out of tobacco use for millions. E-cigarettes should be the centrepiece of your strategy not something which the Department of Health obstructs.

For instance it is very difficult to explain to my constituents why the Department last Friday brought in a ban on e-cigarette advertising a month after the Royal College of Physicians urged you to “promote e-cigarettes widely.”

There are 2.8 million vapers nationally which means there are around 4,300 in my constituency. They are increasingly aware that your Department’s own impact assessment outlined serious problems with the TPD's e-cigarette regulations:

a) “There is a risk that due to the potential price increase and reduction of choice of e-cigarettes, people will choose to switch back to smoking” (paragraph 207)

b) the number of e-cigarette products on the market could fall 96% from 25,000 to 1,000 (Annex B page 74)

c) “There is a risk that a black market will develop with potentially harmful e-cigarette products” (paragraph 208)

d) “if users can’t get the desired nicotine level from e-cigarettes they may switch to cigarettes” (paragraph 200)

Of deepest concern is the plight of the 252,000 e-cigarette users who use the stronger nicotine levels which your Department is planning to ban with no solution other than smoking or the black market. This is unconscionable. Emergency measures must be introduced to protect them.

The complete lack of political support for these e-cigarette regulations was revealed by your colleague Lord Prior of Brampton who told the House of Lords that he hoped that “enforcement would be more Italian than traditionally British.”

I also note that two years ago Jeremy Corbyn described the e-cigarette regulations as “perverse” and two weeks ago his shadow health minister Lord Hunt of Kings Heath said that he could not understand why e-cigarettes had been included in the Directive.

Our constituents will ask why given the gravity of these measures they have never been debated on the floor of the House of Commons.

We have to demonstrate to our constituents that the political process in Westminster and Brussels is responsive when mistakes have been made. The Department of Health has been poor in dealing with e-cigarettes: Lord Prior said that without the moderating influence of Brussels our regulations could have been “far worse.”
It is disturbing that your officials are still briefing about the need “to protect children from the dangers of nicotine” when there is no evidence of children being lured into tobacco use through vaping and the health risks are almost entirely from the inhalation of tobacco smoke not the nicotine.
It is time for your Department to take the lead during this critical fortnight in which faults in the current SI can be dealt with. I know that ASH are lobbying MPs for the SI to remain unchanged and am also aware that they receive a £200,000 DH grant.

I ask you to make an announcement to the House on what measures you are taking to prevent this turning into a public health catastrophe which would last until the next Tobacco Products Directive is implemented in around 2026.

Yours sincerely,

xxxx xxxx MP"

I thank you for your time and in advance for your help.

Yours sincerely,

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