The government has committed to reviewing how its regulations on e-cigarettes could be changed after the UK leaves the EU, as scheduled for March 2019.
In its response to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee’s report on e-cigarettes, the government agreed with recommendations for a review of e-cigarette regulation “to identify scope for change post-Brexit”.
The committee had recommended in its e-cigarettes report, published in August 2018, that the regulations, “which are currently applied under EU legislation”, should be changed as “part of a wider shift to a more risk-proportionate regulatory environment”, in which restrictions, advertising rules and taxes “reflect the evidence on the relative harms of the various e-cigarette and tobacco products available”.
In its response, the Department of Health and Social Care said it was committed to a review “to re-appraise current regulation to ensure this continues to protect the nation’s health”.
The response added: “We will look to identify where we can sensibly deregulate without harming public health or where current EU regulations limit our ability to deal with tobacco.”
The government also committed to “consider reviewing the position on snus” — a moist powder tobacco product currently banned across the EU.
The response document said it will consider whether snus would promote “proportional harm reduction”.
It said: “The government’s goal will remain to achieve a proportionate approach to managing risk, one which protects the young and non-smokers, whilst giving smokers access to products which will reduce harm.”
Steve Brine, the pharmacy minister, has previously said he would keep an open mind about lifting the ban on snus, which is currently legal in Sweden, and where smoking rates are some of the lowest in Europe.