Parliamentary questions provide a platform for MPs to quiz government ministers on the work, policies and activities undertaken by the government.

This week, Steve Brine, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care, answered three of MP Jim Shannon’s questions about vaping and other smoking alternatives.

The first question called for clarification of short-fill regulations.

Mr Brine said:

“As short-fills do not contain nicotine when sold they are not regulated under the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 (TRPR), but are covered by General Product Safety Regulations.

The government is committed to conduct a review of the TRPR at a later date.”

In answering to the second question, Mr Brine reinforced the government’s commitment to encouraging smokers to quit with the use of nicotine-replacement therapy, behavioural support and e-cigarettes.

Mr Brine said:

“E-cigarettes are not risk free. However, the evidence is increasingly clear that vaping is significantly less harmful to health than smoking tobacco and can be particularly useful in supporting smokers to quit, especially when combined with stop smoking services.

“The most recent evidence report review from Public Health England, published on 6 February 2018, argues that e-cigarette use, alone or in combination with licensed medication and behavioural support from a stop smoking service appears to be helpful in the short-term, and that e-cigarettes have contributed to tens of thousands of additional quitters in England.”

Controversial smoking substitute snus hit the headlines on Sunday when former England star Ashley Cole was photographed using it before a workout session.

The NNA has long campaigned for its use to be legalised in the UK as a less-harmful alternative to smoking and it is already legal in Sweden.

According to Mr Brine, the current policy outlined by the TPD, which doesn’t allow for suns, may be revised post-Brexit.

“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’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.”