UK MPs Question Government's Regulation of E-Cigarette Use among Minors
Recently, multiple members of parliament in the UK posed a series of questions regarding the government's regulation of electronic cigarettes for minors during a Q&A session in the House of Commons.
Carla Lockhart from Upper Bann asked the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care about the measures the government is taking to raise awareness among young people about the risks of electronic cigarettes.
Neil O'Brien, the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Care, told her that: "In order to raise awareness among the public about the risks of electronic cigarette use among children, we have updated our online information and advice on the Better Health and Talk To Frank platforms. The Department of Health and Social Care is also working with the Department of Education to communicate with schools and prevent children from starting to use electronic cigarettes.
Labour MP Andrew Gwynne, who represents Denton and Reddish, has asked the Secretary of State for an assessment of how departmental policies will impact the goal of England achieving a smoke-free status by at least 2030, seven years from now, if further action is not taken.
Neil O'Brien stated, "We are currently considering the recommendations presented in the 'Khan Review: Ending Smoking for Good' and further information regarding plans to achieve the 2030 target will be provided at an appropriate time." This promise was made before the turmoil in the government one month ago.
Gwynne then inquired about when the department plans to provide the latest update regarding the implementation of the smoke-free goal plan.
O'Brien reiterated his standard response that the government is currently considering these proposals and hopes to provide an update at the appropriate time.
The Minister of Shadow Health and Social Care subsequently inquired about the measures the Ministry of Health plans to take to address the issue of underage use of electronic cigarettes.
Neil O'Brien responded, "There is a regulatory framework that can prevent e-cigarettes from being attractive to children by restricting product advertising, nicotine strength, labeling, and safety requirements. Selling e-cigarettes to those under 18 is illegal and we will continue to work with law enforcement to ensure these regulations are enforced in England. In addition, to increase awareness of the risks of e-cigarettes to children, we have recently updated information and advice on the Better Health and Talk to Frank online platforms. We will also continue to work with the Department of Education to convey policies that prevent children from starting to use e-cigarettes to schools.
Finally, Gwen asked the Secretary of Health and Social Care what recent estimates the department has made regarding the prevalence of electronic cigarette use among high school students.
The Minister for Primary Care and Public Health informed him that according to the "2021 Smoking, Drinking, and Drug Use among Young People in the UK" report published by NHS Digital in September 2022, the current proportion of 11-15 year olds who use electronic cigarettes frequently and occasionally is 9%. The data can be accessed here. Selling smoking products to anyone under 18 years old is illegal.
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