Thank you to all those who have contacted me about the World Health Organization’s (WHO) position on e-cigarettes.

The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) is an international treaty developed to combat the global tobacco epidemic. The Conference of the Parties (COP) to the FCTC is the governing body of the treaty. It meets every two years and COP10 – the tenth meeting – is scheduled to take place in Panama in February 2024, delayed from November 2023.

Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable illness and death. E-cigarettes can be valuable as an aid to help smokers quit. They are part of the drive towards a smoke-free society and evidence shows a positive association with quit success.

From personal experience, I know that vaping can make a huge difference in giving up smoking. As a former smoker myself, I successfully used vaping to help myself quit, and have seen similar results in family and friends who have taken up vaping as a replacement to smoking. In my opinion, there is no more effective way of giving up smoking than e-cigarettes.

I am concerned about the rising prevalence of e-cigarette use among children, and there do need to be safeguards in place to protect young people from taking up both smoking and vaping. However, most people who use e-cigarettes are former or current smokers – according to ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) 56% of those who use vapes are former smokers and 37% are current smokers. I believe that the greatest threat to public health comes from smoking, not from vaping.

E-cigarettes are a measure that should sit within a broader public health strategy to help people live well for longer. Vapes should not be branded and advertised in a way that appeals to children who do not currently smoke. I believe we should work collaboratively with local councils and the NHS to ensure e-cigarettes are being used as a method for smokers to quit.

I would also like to see increased Government research into the impact of vaping compared to smoking. Smoking is far more harmful than vaping, yet 40% of smokers believe the opposite. I agree with the position of the UK’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Witty, who has advised that ‘if you smoke, vaping is much safer; if you don’t smoke, don’t vape; marketing vapes to children is utterly unacceptable’. It is important that, in this debate over how to protect children and young people from vaping, we do not demonise an effective tool to combat smoking or lead people to believe that the two have a similar impact on overall health.

If we want to build a healthier and fairer future, we need bold measures to tackle smoking and improve public health. I am committed to a long-term plan for reform of our health service, shifting the focus of care into the community, and putting prevention and early intervention at its heart. Under the plan, public health services would be supported with the resources they need to improve population health and tackle inequalities.

Thank you once again to all who have contacted me about this issue.

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