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UK Government welcomes Science and Technology Committee’s Seventh Report of the Session 2017-19 on E‑cigarettes

The context for policy on e-cigarettes is the continuing tobacco epidemic. Smoking causes over 78,000 deaths a year and is the leading cause of preventable illness and premature death in England. The financial burden that this puts on the National Health Service (NHS) in England, and other public services is huge, but the costs go far beyond the financial: a regular, long-term smoker loses an average of 10 years of their life due to their habit. Great progress has been made over the past decade in reducing adult smoking prevalence to 14.9%, the lowest rate on record, although there remain considerable inequalities: some poorer communities remain blighted by tobacco. However, the Government recognises we cannot be complacent and in its Tobacco Control Plan for England, published in July 2017, set out a series of ambitions to reduce prevalence still further, en route to the eventual goal of a smoke free generation.1 The plan also made a commitment to promote a proportionate approach to harm reduction.

The Government believes in proportionate regulation of e-cigarettes, recognising that they are not risk-free. Through the European Union Tobacco Products Directive 2014/40/EU (TPD), transposed into UK law by the UK Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 (TRPR), we have introduced measures to regulate e-cigarettes to reduce the risk of harm to children, protect against any risk of renormalisation of tobacco use, provide assurance on relative safety for users, and give businesses legal certainty. This has enabled the United Kingdom to implement appropriate standards for products whilst allowing smokers to move to e-cigarettes should they wish.

The Government has consistently highlighted that quitting smoking and nicotine use completely is the best way to improve health. E-cigarettes are not risk free. However, the evidence is increasingly clear that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful to health than smoking tobacco, and can help smokers to quit, particularly when combined with stop smoking services. Some two and a half million people in England now use e-cigarettes, many using them to quit smoking for good.

Read the full Response here

Source: Secretary of State for Health and Social Care December 2018

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