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    UKVIA decries omission of industry and vapers by Tobacco and Vapes Bill Committee

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    The UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) has today expressed its shock and dismay at the Tobacco and Vapes Bill Committee’s decision not to invite the vaping industry or vapers to give evidence, calling it “fundamentally undemocratic.”

    Last week, the political website Guido Fawkes reported its surprise at seeing that the 16-member committee contained no MPs who voted against it. The make-up of the Bill’s committee has also drawn criticism from industry commentators, who have labelled it “ludicrously one-sided”.

    “Over the last few months since the vaping consultation which led to the proposed ban on disposables, we have tried to engage with the government on numerous occasions to present our perspectives. Instead, it is clear that the government feels we are trying to derail or slowdown their plans, which could not be further from the truth,” John Dunne, director general of the UKVIA, said.

    “Whilst we do not agree with the disposable vapes ban, we accept that it is going to happen as the government feel this is the best way to tackle youth vaping, albeit this category has been instrumental in helping smokers quit. However, the government is walking blindly into a bigger problem that the Bill could address with an amendment – that being the widely predicted rise of illicit vape products in the wake of such a ban that will pose a significant public health risk to children and adults alike.

    “That’s why we’ve been pushing for the introduction of a vape retailer and distributor licensing scheme to tackle this issue and deal with the unintended consequences of the ban on single use vapes, not to overturn the ban. The secretary of state for health and social care only last week referred to this scheme as the line the industry is now taking, which showed absolutely no respect for our commitment to regulate our own industry. The government has completely ignored that we have been pushing for such a scheme for the last few years. The absence of a retailer and distributor licensing scheme will, if not taken on board, represent a missed opportunity for an otherwise landmark piece of legislation. If the government ignores our warning, we will ensure we hold them to account for the impacts of an out-of-control black market, as they are now seeing in Australia.”

    The UKVIA said it is broadly supportive of the aims of the Tobacco and Vapes Bill and the impact it is expected to have on reducing smoking and youth vaping rates. However, in addition to pushing for the licensing scheme, it is also concerned that the absence of a statutory requirement for the government to consult before making regulations poses a significant risk of arbitrary decision-making.

    The UKVIA has therefore submitted two amendments for the Bill committee to consider, including the call to introduce the licensing scheme, along with the need for future governments to undertake a statutory consultation with both industry participants and the general public prior to use the powers as granted by the Bill.

    “You really could not make this up – the committee does not include any MPs who opposed the second reading of the Bill, nor has it invited anyone from the industry or vapers themselves to give evidence on the Tobacco and Vapes Bill – our office has tried to make contact on a number of occasions so I could represent the industry’s interests, but to no avail. Instead, many of those asked to give evidence have publicly criticised vaping in one way or another. Not only does this risk the Bill not facing proper scrutiny prior to its third reading, but it is fundamentally undemocratic, with the people this Bill will impact the most not being able to provide evidence on how the Bill can be improved,” Dunne added.

    Following the non-inclusion of the vaping industry and vapers to give evidence to the Bill’s Committee, the UKVIA has written to both Preet Gill, shadow minister for primary care and public health, and Lord Markham, parliamentary under secretary of state at the Department for Health and Social Care, expressing its disappointment at the approach being taken and asking them to challenge the selection process.

    The UKVIA has also written to Dame Andrea Leadsom, minister for primary care and public health, pointing out the undemocratic approach to the selection process to give evidence to the Tobacco and Vape Bill’s Committee. At the same time it highlighted to the minister the “growing list of decisions by the Department of Health and Social Care to exclude the UKVIA from any meaningful collaboration with the department.”

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