Pregnant women struggling to quit should be given free e-cigs, MP says
Will Quince said he hoped the issue could be addressed in next month’s Budget, addingvaping and e-cigarettes were “a great transition off smoking and nicotine entirely”.
It comes as fellow Tory MP Mark Pawsey suggested relaxing advertising restrictions on e-cigarettes may help people stop smoking tobacco.
Speaking in a backbench business debate on the Government’s tobacco control plan, Mr Quince, who has led a campaign on baby loss in Parliament, said smoking was linked to a litany of problems in pregnancy
The Colchester MP added: “The issue of vaping and e-cigarettes, now whilst I appreciate… that the jury is somewhat still out when it comes to these products, and of course quitting outright is always the aim, these products must surely be better than smoking, especially for pregnant woman.
“I would encourage the minister to work with the Treasury to investigate some kind of levy on the tobacco industry – incidentally, the tobacco industry which has huge investments in vaping and e-cigarettes, in fact most of the biggest e-cigarette companies are owned by the major tobacco manufacturers.”
After taking an intervention, Mr Quince continued: “We do know, the evidence is out there, that it is a great transition off smoking and nicotine entirely.
“I think there is far more research that needs to be done in this area, and I do think, and I very much hope, as part of the Budget, the Chancellor is looking at a way in which we could encourage tobacco manufacturers to provide these products for free to women who are struggling to give up smoking during pregnancy in particular.”
Mr Pawsey, MP for Rugby, had earlier asked whether manufacturers should be given more freedom to explain how e-cigarettes can help people switch from traditional products than is allowed under the Tobacco Products Directive.
He asked Labour’s Sir Kevin Barron, who was leading the debate: “Does he think that e-cigarette manufacturers should have a little more freedom than they have already to tell people about the nature of the product and how it can help people switch from tobacco, given the restrictions that exist on the advertising of e-cigarettes through the Tobacco Products Directive?”
Sir Kevin, MP for Rother Valley, replied: “The simple answer is that that is another issue that needs to be addressed along with others – but it is quite clear that e-cigarettes don’t suit everyone and there still needs to be a wide range of licensed stop smoking medication.
“Whilst the best thing a smoker can do, of course, for their health is to quit smoking altogether, it clearly is the case that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful than smoking tobacco.”
It followed a question from Labour’s Alex Cunningham, who asked if Sir Kevin could imagine e-cigarettes being made available on prescription.
Mr Cunningham said: “Four thousand people in my Stockton North constituency use them as opposed to 14,000 who still smoke.
“Can he envisage the day when they will actually be available… on prescription as other products are?”
Sir Kevin said: “There may be a case for that, we clearly need more evidence and more use of them in smoking cessation so we are able to make that estimate a lot better.”