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Tobacco Products and Nicotine Inhaling Products (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020

Volume 807: debated on Monday 2 November 2020

Considered in Grand Committee

Moved by

That the Grand Committee do consider the Tobacco Products and Nicotine Inhaling Products (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020.

My Lords, thanks to the cross-party achievements on tobacco control legislation over the past two decades, smoking rates are at their lowest levels on record in the UK and extensive public health gains have been made. However, we cannot be complacent. Smoking still causes over 78,000 deaths each year and is one of the leading causes of preventable illness and premature death in England alone. That is why we have set out an ambition for England to be smoke-free by 2030. We are developing our plans here and will share them as soon as we can.

As noble Lords are aware, the United Kingdom is a global leader in tobacco control and the instrument we are debating today will ensure that we continue our strong commitment to robust levels of tobacco control legislation after the end of the transition period. Through these regulations, we are making the necessary arrangements to implement the terms of the withdrawal agreement and the Northern Ireland protocol in law for tobacco control. This will ensure that tobacco control functions effectively from 1 January.

The 2020 regulations will amend the existing 2019 regulations, which were made in preparation for our exit from the European Union. The amendments made by this instrument to the 2019 regulations will mean further amendments to the way in which the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 apply in Great Britain and Northern Ireland after the end of the transition period.

The 2020 regulations introduce four main changes. First, it is essential that tobacco and e-cigarette producers provide notification of their products. This ensures that companies comply with legislation on product standards and competent authorities are aware of all the products on the market. In accordance with the Northern Ireland protocol, the European Union’s tobacco products directive will apply to Northern Ireland after the end of the transition period. Therefore, this instrument requires that suppliers of tobacco and e-cigarette products wishing to place a product on the market in Northern Ireland will continue notifying via the EU common entry gate system. As legislated for in the 2019 regulations, those wishing to sell in Great Britain will be required to notify through a domestic system. The domestic system is already developed and will be hosted by Public Health England for tobacco products, and by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency for e-cigarette products. The format and information required for notifying on both systems will be very similar, to place as little burden on industry as possible.

Secondly, to limit the financial burden on industry, this instrument makes amendments to the Tobacco Products and Herbal Products for Smoking (Fees) Regulations 2017 and the Electronic Cigarettes Etc. (Fees) Regulations 2016. The amendments will reflect that, if a producer notifies via both the Northern Ireland and Great Britain systems, they are required to pay only one fee. If a producer wishes to notify in relation to placing products on just one of the markets, the same one fee will be payable. We will, however, keep the fee structure under review.

Thirdly, the instrument amends requirements for picture warnings, which are central to tobacco control. Due to the Northern Ireland protocol, the European Union’s library of picture warnings will continue to feature on tobacco products sold in Northern Ireland. However, our Government do not hold the copyright for the European Union’s pictures for use in a Great Britain market. We therefore require the industry to switch to the picture warnings as set out in Schedule A1 to the 2019 regulations, kindly licensed by the Australian Government free of cost. I would like to highlight to noble Lords that the tobacco industry is already accustomed to supplying different markets with varying packaging requirements across Europe and worldwide.

Lastly, the regulations will amend the sell-through period for existing stock that features the EU picture library on the Great British market, in accordance with the withdrawal agreement. This will allow stock first supplied before the end of the transition period to continue to circulate until it reaches its end user.

This instrument will allow goods to move freely between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, subject to the tobacco picture warning requirements.

Although this instrument will have some impact on industry, we have tried to minimise this as much as possible by communicating with stakeholders in August and making them aware of the legislative changes. We also circulated guidance in October regarding the specific requirements for picture warnings. Public Health England and the MHRA will be publishing detailed guidance on notification requirements for both notification systems later this autumn.

Officials at the Department of Health and Social Care have engaged with the devolved Administrations throughout the development of this instrument, and I am grateful for that positive collaboration.

This instrument is a necessary measure in order to ensure that the withdrawal agreement and Northern Ireland protocol are reflected in law for tobacco control. It is crucial that the robust level of tobacco control currently operating in the UK remains after the end of the transition period, ensuring that we continue to protect the nation’s health. I beg to move.

My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for introducing these regulations. I want to ask her two or three questions.

First, on notification, as the Minister said, the regulations provide that producers will be required to pay only one fee if they notify a new product on either or both of the notification systems. However, products which are required to carry picture warnings will not have mutual access to the two markets because of the different legal requirements that apply within each area. Can the Minister confirm that this approach will minimise the amount of additional work involved in the notification process if there were to be a no-deal Brexit, that products notified to the UK prior to the UK leaving the EU will not require renotification, that data will be accepted in the same XML format as currently submitted to the EU common entry gate, and that the UK will continue to recognise submitter IDs issued by the European Commission, including those issued after the UK exits the EU?

In the longer term, the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 require the Secretary of State to review the regulations and publish a report before 20 May 2021. The review needs to examine the objectives intended to be achieved by the regulatory provision made by the regulations, and assess how far they can be met and whether they remain appropriate. Can the Minister set out a timeline for that?

E-cigarettes continue to be the most popular aid to quitting for adult smokers. A recent international review by the Cochrane group found that evidence had grown that e-cigarettes are effective in helping smokers to quit and that they may be more effective than traditional medications such as nicotine patches and gum. However, recent research from ASH points to a slowing of use among adult smokers, which may be linked to deteriorating understanding that vaping is safer than smoking. This raises the concern that more smokers could be successfully switching if they correctly understood that it was safer than continuing to smoke. At the same time, data shared with me by ASH shows that over 80% of 11 to 18 year-olds have never tried an e-cigarette, with less than 2% vaping at least weekly. However, ASH has also raised concerns that the way e-cigarettes are marketed may be shaping young people’s choice of products, and hence influencing their behaviour. Given the importance of balancing the needs of smokers against any impact on young people, it seems important that a review of these regulations is undertaken. If the Minister could set out a timeline, I would be grateful.

On picture warnings, I understand from ASH that it considers that, for the purposes of providing an alternative to the current picture warnings in the event we leave the EU without a deal, switching to one set of pictures from Australia is a sensible but short-term quick fix for an emergency. Does the Minister agree that best practice, as is the case in both Australia and the UK at present, is to rotate and regularly review and update health warnings? It is essential in the longer term that the Government review the warnings, which I gather are currently being evaluated by the Australian Government, to find ways to increase the number to allow for rotation, as is currently the case.

On cropping, the Government have stated in the consultation that they will provide further guidance in relation to cropping and sizing the images to ensure that they can be easily adapted by industry and will conform to existing legislative requirements on images and pack size. This is obviously essential, as it ensures a smooth transition to the new picture library. Can the Minister say when the guidance will come?

Finally, the Minister opened with a very welcome statement about government intent towards a smoke-free nation by 2030. However, this is a challenging target, and it is time for a revitalised tobacco strategy which includes the new measures envisaged in the public health Green Paper. Those are essential if we are to achieve the smoke-free 2030 ambition. In her opening remarks the Minister mentioned the work that is being done, but can she tell me when we expect to see publication of a new tobacco control plan?

My Lords, I declare an interest as a vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health. As an officer of that group, I was pleased to welcome the ambition set out in the Government’s prevention Green Paper last year, which sets out the aim for England to be smoke free by 2030.

The APPG has since endorsed the Roadmap to a Smokefree 2030, produced by Action on Smoking and Health and which was also endorsed by over 70 leading health organisations, including the Royal College of Physicians, the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK. It sets out the actions needed to fulfil the Government’s ambition. The recommendations in the road map include measures that build on the regulations we are discussing today, including policies such as raising the age of sale for tobacco products and introducing what are called dissuasive cigarettes. The post-implementation review of the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations, which this instrument amends, provides an opportunity to take forward these policies.

Currently, 280 children take up smoking every day in England. This means that since the Government announced their ambition to be smoke-free by 2030, over 130,000 children have started smoking, risking a lifetime of addiction and premature death. Nearly 80% of smokers aged 16 to 24 say that they took up smoking before the age of 18. Raising the age of sale from 16 to 18 was associated with reductions in youth smoking, with a similar impact across different socioeconomic groups. Raising the age of sale further from 18 to 21 is a popular measure, with 62% of British adults reporting that they would support that move.

Similar evidence shows that dissuasive cigarettes, which have health warnings printed on the cigarette itself, could be effective. There is evidence that, to some extent, smokers become immune to the existing warnings on packets, and so new techniques are needed to gain their attention. Dissuasive cigarettes are under consideration in Canada, Australia and Scotland, and would provide a simple and effective means of reinforcing health messages such as “Smoking causes cancer”.

These actions are needed now more than ever. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the impact of health inequalities on our society, with people in the most deprived communities twice as likely to die as a result of it. It is not a coincidence that these are also the communities worst affected by smoking. In Liverpool, where I grew up, 23% of people in routine and manual jobs still smoke. My mother was a nurse, but her life was undoubtedly shortened by smoking. It is clear that the poorest communities bear the brunt of smoking-related diseases, such as heart and lung disease, diabetes and hypertension, which worsen the impacts of coronavirus.

The Government’s manifesto last December committed to levelling up, to delivering five extra healthy life years by 2035 while narrowing inequalities. Reducing smoking is key to delivering those ambitions. However, we are still awaiting the Government’s response to the prevention Green Paper consultation and the promised further proposals to move us towards a smoke-free 2030 in England. Action is needed now, or our poorest communities will continue to be left behind and bear the brunt of smoking-related disease.

We are still awaiting the Government’s response to the prevention Green Paper consultation. I hope the Minister may also tell us what has happened to the Government’s response to the consultation on the Nicotine Inhaling Products (Age of Sale and Proxy Purchasing) Regulations 2015, covering England and Wales. That consultation closed in September last year and is referred to in these regulations. A response to that consultation was due last September but, almost a year on, there has been no word from the Government about when it will be published. We are waiting for the Government’s response to two consultations and for the launch of another, which needs to report before the end of the financial year. All three consultations are related to the regulations being amended by the statutory instrument before us, so can the Minister confirm when the Government will deliver on all three?

My Lords, first, I apologise for arriving during the Minister’s introduction: I had some connection problems.

I welcome the regulations. They are necessary with Brexit imminent, but the complexity is well illustrated in the Explanatory Memorandum, which takes some reading. One thing that caught my eye was in paragraph 7.1.8, relating to Northern Ireland. Special regulations covering many issues relating to smoking and tobacco get tied up in the relationship between Northern Ireland and the rest of the EU. Has any thought been given to the reintroduction of smuggling across the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland? Cigarettes are wonderful things to smuggle—they very easy to hide. A lot of that will be going on unless some effort is made to discuss these and other regulations with the relevant people in the Republic, and with the European Union. I will be glad to hear what the Minister has to say on that.

My other question arose this morning when I got an email from the IBVTA, which represents vape stores. In response to the announcement on Saturday of the closing of all but essential shops, it terms a vape store as an essential shop. According to this organisation, and as we all know, more than 70,000 people across the UK die of smoking-related illnesses every year. It also says—which is relevant and which confirms the view of my noble friend Lord Hunt of Kings Heath—that more than 3 million vapers are ex-smokers or current smokers. If for the next month, vapers will not be allowed able to buy their vapes, I suggest that there is a really good chance that they will revert to buying cigarettes, assuming they can buy them. Perhaps the Minister can explain why or if this is happening and, if not, write to me, because that is a retrograde step if we are to get to the target of being smoke free by 2030.

In the same way, if we are to have that target and make some changes, we ought to set an example ourselves and completely ban any tobacco smoke within the Palace of Westminster. That may be above the Minister’s pay grade—it is certainly above mine—but we should not forget about it. I look forward to her comments.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for introducing the regulations. The decline in smoking that we have seen in the United Kingdom is indeed a major public health achievement and has, as she said, commanded strong cross-party support. My noble friend Lord Clement-Jones, working with others, including the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, and the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, was central in bringing about the ban on smoking in public places, and that was transformative.

I was very pleased that when I was in the Department of Health in the coalition Government, we were able to build on that progress, and I pay tribute here to the noble Lord, Lord Lansley, who was then Secretary of State. The draft instrument before us today must protect those achievements as we leave the EU, and I ask the Minister to ensure that it does with respect to warnings on tobacco packaging. I hope that we will continue to work with the EU: yet again, we maximised our influence by being in the EU.

I turn to the pictorial warnings. Evidence shows that one of the benefits of standardised tobacco packaging is that it makes the graphic health warnings on packs stand out. Research has consistently shown that pictorial warnings are more effective than text-only warnings at motivating smokers to quit. It is therefore welcome that the Government will be able to use the Australian Government’s library of graphic pictorial health warnings as an interim solution to ensure that tobacco packaging continues to warn smokers, following the end of the transition period. However, I emphasise the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Hunt: that it is best practice to change these health warnings around to ensure that they maintain their impact. The reduced number of warnings in the Australian picture library compared to the EU’s is therefore a concern, and that is why this can be only an interim solution. Will the Government conduct a review of the picture warnings to ensure that we can increase their number, allowing for the rotation of warnings, as is currently the case? It is also worth noting that Northern Ireland will continue to have access to the EU picture library, meaning that packs sold in Northern Ireland will continue to have a wider range of picture warnings.

As the Minister says, we cannot be complacent. Smoking prevalence remains the leading cause of preventable premature death, killing almost 100,000 people a year in the United Kingdom. It is striking that there has been a decline during the pandemic. People know that smoking kills and fear for their health, but while more than half of smokers report wanting to quit, many take 30 or more attempts to do so. More must be done to help smokers to quit if we are to achieve the Government’s ambition of a smoke-free England by 2030. Like my noble friend Lord Rennard, I very much welcome the Government’s intention that England is smoke free by 2030.

While health warnings on the outside of packs motivate smokers to quit, the Government could and should go further, introducing pack inserts, which provide evidence-based advice on how to quit successfully. In Canada, for example, pack inserts highlight the benefits of quitting and provide tips on how to do so. Research into their impact has shown that while reading on-pack health warnings significantly decreased over time, reading inserts significantly increased, with more frequent reading of inserts associated with quitting. Introducing pack inserts in the United Kingdom would require a simple amendment to the standardised packaging regulations.

The Government’s prevention Green Paper mentioned pack inserts but highlighted that they would wait until Brexit was completed to bring this forward. Now, as we approach the end of the transition period, and the review of the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations is due, could the Minister say what is being done to take forward this proposal as another step towards achieving a smoke-free 2030?

I also ask the Minister about her department’s engagement with the local government department over countering smoking. I expect she knows that the Government agreed that at least part of areas outside pubs and restaurants should be smoke-free. Is she aware that the Secretary of State for local government, Robert Jenrick, wrote to Manchester local government in effect warning against this, saying that jobs might be lost, even though there is no evidence of this? Can she tell me whether this letter of his received prior approval from the Department of Health and Social Care?

I look forward to the noble Baroness’s reply and, if she cannot answer the last point, to a letter from her clarifying the matter—not a letter saying that the regulations were jointly approved but a letter telling us whether the local government letter sent in August was jointly approved. I look forward to her response.

[Inaudible]—necessitated this draft instrument. It also necessitates additional plans from the agencies responsible for the enforcement of the legislation under discussion, notably Public Health England, an agency that itself is facing an uncertain future.

Public Health England is currently the designated UK competent authority for the notification of novel tobacco products. The Government’s decision to close Public Health England mid-pandemic, and at a time when we are working through the complexity of leaving the EU, is astonishing. The lack of current detail on where key responsibilities discharged by PHE will go is extremely concerning. These regulations require the producers of products coming to the UK market to notify Public Health England against a mandated set of criteria, including information such as ingredients and emissions, as well as an obligation to share their existing research on the products. This is important information about novel tobacco products entering the UK market, yet it is unclear where these responsibilities will sit once Public Health England closes.

The lack of clarity around the responsibilities discharged by Public Health England with respect to the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 raises the risk of poor compliance by business and enforcement gaps in the Government’s response. I therefore ask the Minister to urgently provide clarity on where these functions will sit and provide assurances that public health experts will continue to have oversight of this process and that the population impacts of these products can be properly considered and effective advice provided to Ministers.

However, the current system is far from perfect and the change brought about by leaving the EU and reforming our public health system creates an opportunity to make improvements. In 2018, Philip Morris International reported that it had spent $4.5 billion since 2008 developing smokeless tobacco products. It currently costs producers £200 to submit a notification of a novel tobacco product. The low fees inevitably mean that the system is underresourced. Fees should be set that allow for products to be independently tested and assessed. Will the Minister consider making such changes to improve the effectiveness of the system?

But what of the role of Public Health England, which currently provides advice on tobacco and nicotine? Its role in these matters extends beyond the issue of novel tobacco products: it also played a key role in generating the evidence needed to effectively review these regulations.

In the House on 14 September 2016, the noble Lord, Lord Prior, said:

“The Government will continue to monitor and develop this evidence base, adapting policy accordingly, to ensure that policy on e-cigarettes best supports the protection and improvement of public health.”—[Official Report, 14/9/16; col. 1537.]

What steps have been taken? This work has been undertaken by Public Health England in the interim years through a series of world-class reports that were commissioned from experts. We have been provided with a solid foundation of evidence on which to review the impact of regulations, as well as policy advice for front-line staff on how to respond to this fast-moving area of public health. Again, I ask the Minister: where will these vital functions go in the future? Will there be evidence reviews into the impacts of e-cigarettes?

My key point on the impact of leaving the EU on these regulatory changes relates to flavoured tobacco. All characterising flavours for tobacco, bar menthol, were banned across the EU from May 2017, when menthol products were given a further three years to comply. Ahead of the ban for menthol coming into force in May, Imperial Tobacco launched a new green filter product range. Retailers were encouraged to stock this range, which allowed them to retain menthol customers. Accusations have been made that these products still have a characterising flavour of menthol. Japan Tobacco has similarly been accused of developing products that break the rule banning characterising flavours.

However, determining whether or not a flavour is characterising requires expert analysis. This is currently the responsibility of an independent advisory panel, set up by the EU to assist member states and the Commission in determining whether or not a tobacco product has a characterising flavour. Following our exit from the EU, it will be for Public Health England, as the competent authority, to take on this function. However, with Public Health England due to be abolished in spring 2021, which body will take over this function? I would be grateful if the Minister could provide further details on this.

Before we conclude this debate, it is worth taking a look at the effect of the legislation on Northern Ireland, which has been used to working with the Republic. Tobacco products came freely across the border, as did many other products. I sit on the environment Select Committee and we have spent many sessions looking at how the Republic and Northern Ireland will work next year. Much has been said about warning photographs in this debate, so I will not pursue that particular area. However, looking 10 or 20 years hence, I wonder what will be made of this decision, and others like it in all areas of trade in Northern Ireland. I also worry whether, in the end, Northern Ireland will acknowledge that the situation it finds itself in is untenable and decidej to leave the union. As a unionist, I would be hugely sad about that, but I really would understand. Time will tell.

We have had a very good discussion. I thank the Minister for her introduction of the regulations and all Members who spoke, who have shown yet again the expertise, interest and commitment that there is in the House on this subject, and why tobacco regulation has always been close to the hearts of many noble Lords.

I think all the questions on picture warnings have been covered by noble Lords, so I do not intend to repeat those. I am, however, going to draw the Committee’s attention to what I think is a significant loophole in the legislation being amended by this statutory instrument—one which needs urgent consideration.

In effect, while it is illegal for e-cigarettes to be sold to children under 18, according to advice from trading standards, it is not illegal for them to be given out as free samples to anyone of any age. This is because e-cigarettes are not covered by Section 9 of the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act, “Prohibition of free distributions”, as they are not a tobacco product. Meanwhile, the age of sale regulations contained in Regulation 3 of the Nicotine Inhaling Products (Age of Sale and Proxy Purchasing) Regulations 2015 inhibit their sale only to those under 18. While the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 prohibit packaging or vouchers offering free or discounted products, they do not prohibit the handing out of free e-cigarettes in Regulation 38(4).

A recent article in the Observer highlighted that a supplier working on behalf of British American Tobacco had been caught handing out BAT’s popular e-cigarette brand Vype to a 17 year-old without carrying out any kind of age check. This clearly contravenes the spirit of the existing regulations, which set the age of sale at 18 to protect children from using e-cigarettes. While evidence shows that e-cigarettes are likely to be significantly less harmful than tobacco cigarettes and can be effective in supporting adult smokers to quit smoking, it is of course absolutely vital that children are prevented from taking up vaping because, while it is a lot less harmful than smoking, it is not risk free.

Allowing the tobacco industry to market its products to children not only undermines the Government’s ambition for a smoke-free 2030 but threatens the availability of e-cigarettes for use by adults who want to quit smoking. E-cigarettes clearly have a role to play in reducing the burden of death and disease from smoking, which falls on the poorest in society and still kills almost 100,000 people a year in the United Kingdom. The Government must commit to revising the regulations to remove this serious loophole in the law. I am sure that the Minister would agree that the UK does not want to go the way of the United States, where in 2019 12% of high-school students reported using e-cigarettes on a daily basis, compared with only 1.6% of 11 to 18 year-olds using them regularly in Great Britain.

BAT would no doubt argue that this was a one-off and that it is serious about preventing underage access to vaping products. However, I have to say that it is another example of big tobacco saying one thing and doing another. The tobacco industry, and BAT in particular, has a track record of trying to get around legislation designed to protect children across the world from tobacco company marketing. In 2019, BAT was investigated by the Advertising Standards Authority for promoting its Vype e-cigarettes to young people on social media. There, the company used Instagram hashtags completely unrelated to Vype or its product features to link Vype to significant cultural and popular current events. That meant that anyone, including children and young people, searching for things such as the 2019 Oscars, the best actor, the BAFTAs or London Fashion Week, would have seen promotions for Vype e-cigarettes.

One BAT Instagram post included the hashtag #LilyAllen, which includes nearly 83,000 Instagram posts and could be seen by anyone searching for #LilyAllen on the platform. This was described by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids as a concerted, consistent, systematic approach to BAT’s online promotion of its Vype nicotine e-cigarettes, outside the guidance and the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016. The ASA subsequently ruled that BAT’s celebrity-driven ads

“clearly went beyond the provision of factual information and was promotional in nature”.

It has been proved beyond doubt that the tobacco industry, over many years, cannot be trusted to self-regulate and will inevitably exploit any loophole in the regulations, so can the Minister commit that the Government will revise the regulations to prevent tobacco companies marketing their addictive products to children and young people? I would appreciate the opportunity to meet her to discuss this in further detail, including what more can be done to protect children from big tobacco.

My Lords, I thank all noble Lords for their participation today. This has been a really good debate on a really important issue. It is crucial that this legislation is in place to ensure that the UK meets its obligations under the withdrawal agreement and the Northern Ireland protocol. The changes will allow a continuation of the UK’s robust tobacco control legislation after the end of the transition period, ensuring that we remain committed to protecting the nation’s health and helping people to stop smoking. I would like to highlight that this instrument is being made under the withdrawal Act, meaning that it is limited to achieving its primary purpose and does not aim to make any significant changes to tobacco control legislation. Nevertheless, I reiterate that the Government remain committed to a smoke-free generation by 2030, and I would like to answer as many of the questions asked by noble Lords as possible in that spirit.

The noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, and the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, asked about picture warnings. We consulted international experts and it seems that creating our own picture library would require one to two years for us to produce new and original content that is evidence based. Subject to future proposals after the transition period, we may wish to reconsider this option in the future. For now, I reassure noble Lords that we will work with the Australian Government to look at the rotation of pictures, in line with best practice. I also reassure the noble Lord that guidance on cropping has been circulated to industry and was uploaded on 1 October.

I am afraid that I am going to have to disappoint the noble Baroness, Lady Jolly, in that the department will set out its plans regarding where Public Health England’s functions to provide the tobacco notification system will sit at a later date. She also raised the question of novel tobacco products; the DHSC currently holds responsibility for policy and legislation in that area. However, I reassure the noble Baroness that the changes coming to Public Health England in future, and the new body that will be established, in no way diminish our commitment to tobacco control and to delivering a smoke-free England.

I say to the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, that I was surprised when I saw the detail of regulation in this area. We are aware of the issue that she raised about free samples, and it is our understanding that this was an isolated incident. The current regulatory framework for e-cigarettes aims to reduce the risk of harm to children and other young people—but I would happily meet her to discuss the regulation of this in further detail. We do not think that it is a widespread problem, but the DHSC will review the regulatory framework in future to see whether there is a public health concern that needs addressing.

The noble Lords, Lord Hunt and Lord Rennard, asked about the post-implementation review of the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations. I can confirm that this will take place by 20 May 2021. The response to the consultation on nicotine products will be published soon. I am afraid that I do not have more specific timings for the other reviews that we have undertaken or the Government’s response to them.

The noble Lord, Lord Berkeley, raised the risk of smuggling. There will be no difference from 1 January in tobacco duties. They cover the whole of the UK, so we do not see an increased risk of smuggling after the end of the transition period. The noble Lord is correct to say that vape stores will be closed during the coming lockdown as non-essential retail stores. However, products will be available in supermarkets and other shops that are classed as essential retail and stock these products. I agree with him that the banning of smoking in the Palace of Westminster is way above my pay grade.

The noble Baroness, Lady Northover, asked me about pack inserts and about a letter that went from the Secretary of State for MHCLG on smoke-free areas outside cafés and restaurants making use of table licensing. I remember that issue coming up in debate and discussion on the Business and Planning Bill. Perhaps I could write to her on those issues.

The noble Lord, Lord Hunt, asked some specific questions on notification. My understanding is that if a product was notified before the end of the transition period, it will not need to be notified again afterwards. I will write to him on a couple of the more detailed points that he raised.

To conclude, I reiterate that the Government remain committed to a smoke-free generation by 2030. We are exploring policy options to work towards this ambition, and we will announce more of these in due course at a later date.

Motion agreed.

My Lords, that completes the business before the Grand Committee this afternoon. I remind Members to sanitise their desks and chairs before leaving the Room.

Committee adjourned at 4.30 pm.