Clause 11 - Displays of vaping and nicotine products

Part of Tobacco and Vapes Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 2:15 pm ar 9 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Preet Kaur Gill Preet Kaur Gill Shadow Minister (Primary Care and Public Health) 2:15, 9 Mai 2024

We welcome the inclusion of these powers to regulate the display of nicotine and vaping products in retail settings. All of us have seen what has been happening in some shops: as the Minister said, colourful products that look like confectionery kept next to the pick ’n’ mix at pocket money prices. I appreciate that some in the sector have concerns that regulations on point-of-sale displays need to be balanced in respect of their impact on retailers, given existing restrictions on products like tobacco and some of the associated costs. In my view, however, there is no argument against the inclusion of the powers themselves.

I heard from a retail worker at a major supermarket chain that they are paid by the vaping companies to put displays of vapes in prominent locations in their stores. These are often far away from the tills, where there is little to no oversight by staff. I was told that where children once shoplifted sweets, they are now going straight for these products. One worries that the vape companies are almost happy to lose them, if they can get a new customer addicted who they know will come back for more.

None the less, I want to highlight that there appears to be broad support for some restrictions on the display of vapes among retailers. I note that in the Action on Smoking and Health survey of retailers in England and Wales, 80% of tobacco retailers supported prohibiting advertising and promotion of vapes or vaping products in store, and requiring them to be put behind the counter; only 12% were opposed. I would be grateful if the Minister outlined whether it is her firm view—she has alluded to it—that vapes should be kept behind the counter, or whether display should be prohibited entirely, which seems to be what the Government have looked at in their impact assessment. Alternatively, does she feel that further consultation is necessary?

I would also like to raise other questions about the potential for such regulations to be undermined. Clause 34 of the Bill provides an interpretation of terms used in part 1 of the Bill, but it does not define “retailer”. I therefore wonder whether other forms of display for sale would be caught under the powers as drafted here. I am thinking of vape vending machines, which are not in widespread use now but could be in the future.

Have her officials looked at that issue? Given the introduction of some vending machines with automated age verification features, has the Minister considered prohibiting vape vending machines, as has happened in Scotland? We can easily see how this situation could undermine the consistency of regulations on displays.

We need clarity that vending machines could be included in the regulation-making powers granted under this or other clauses. I have no desire to divide the Committee on these clauses and support their inclusion, but I would be grateful to hear from the Minister.