PM urged to pull plug on harmful unregulated e-liquids

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MPs are calling on the government to look again at the regulatory framework governing vaping, in a bid to stem the flow of potentially harmful unregulated nicotine-free e-liquids which are flooding the UK market.

While all e-liquids containing nicotine are regulated by the Tobacco Products Directive - with strict stipulations on ingredients, nicotine content and bottle size - no such restrictions apply to nicotine-free e-liquids, a loophole which is contributing to the development of many thousands of unregulated and “potentially dangerous” e-liquids, according to Mark Pawsey, MP and chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Vaping.

Speaking at a Parliamentary event, organised by JTI, Pawsey called on his fellow MPs to sign a letter to Prime Minister Theresa May, asking her to “protect consumers” by regulating these “potentially harmful” nicotine-free e-liquids in the same way as nicotine-containing e-liquids, under the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD).

“Recent reports suggest that such non-nicotine e-liquids may contain class B drugs, including cannabis and other ingredients that may be harmful to consumers,” Pawsey added.

“Such liquids come in larger bottle sizes and are frequently mixed with separate bottles containing nicotine, allowing consumers to make their own their own nicotine strength e-liquids uninhibited by the restrictions set out in the current regulations.”

Visits to vaping shops and market stalls across the country have revealed thousands of these currently unregulated products for sale, many of which are being sold in packaging designed to look similar to that of popular youth brands including Oreo, Capri Sun, Ribena and Coca Cola, JTI’s head of corporate affairs and communications Charlie Cunningham-Reid added.

Products such as these could be undermining the public health benefits of vaping products, when compared to smoking, by contributing to the misconceptions that many adult smokers still have about the category, he said.

“Despite the huge uptake in vaping seen since 2010, and the fact that Public Health England states that vaping is 95% safer than smoking, it’s concerning that only 17% of adults correctly understand this,” Cunningham-Reid added.

“There is still lots of confusion around the vaping category and the emergence of these unregulated products certainly don’t help. Regulating these products would be a quick win for the government and would help to make the category more trustworthy in the eyes of consumers.”

A large number of MPs and Lords including Sir Kevin Barron, Lord Naseby, Craig Mackinlay, Ian Paisley and Lord Brabazon of Tara have signed the letter urging the Prime Minister to close the regulation loophole.

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