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The UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) has criticised the Tobacco and Vape Bill Committee’s decision not to invite anyone from the industry to provide evidence for the proposed legislation.

Director general of the UKVIA John Dunne said the lack of balance regarding the committee’s list of people called to give evidence and the committee members is “fundamentally undemocratic”.

“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.”

Dunne explained that the UKVIA 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, the trade body 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.

“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.”

He warned that proper scrutiny is needed for this process.

“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.”

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 trade body 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.”