All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Vaping (E-Cigarettes)
- 1 Background
- 2 Relationship with the Tobacco Industry
- 3 Provided Lobbying Platform for Industry
- 4 TobaccoTactics Resources
- 5 Relevant Links
- 6 Notes
By January 2019 the group had formally changed its name to the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Vaping, “to prevent confusion between cigarettes and vaping”. Its stated aim remained: “To explore the most appropriate parliamentary and regulatory response to e-cigarettes and to raise education and literacy amongst policy makers regarding e-cigarettes and related public policy questions.”
The APPG was set up by Mark Pawsey, Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for Rugby, who intended the APPG to “examine and scrutinise this rapidly growing [e-cigarette] industry exploring the benefits the devices could have for people looking to quit smoking”. Pawsey added:
“I believe that stricter regulation is required to ensure that all e-cigarette devices, products and liquids are safe but I do not support regulating the industry out of existence. In the last year many of my constituents have contacted me to say that without e-cigarettes they would not have been able to give up smoking so I think more work must be done in order to establish what role they can play in helping more people quit using tobacco.”
In 2019 the APPG was criticised for taking funding from the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA), which has tobacco industry as members and on its board, rather than holding the industry to account. As a result the former Chair of the committee for standards in public life, Sir Alistair Graham, called for a review of the rules governing APPGs “to prevent lobbyists from buying influence at the heart of Government”. Mark Pawsey defended the involvement of the UKVIA, saying that the relationship is “transparent” and that “The MPs and Peers on the APPG shape its agenda”.
Relationship with the Tobacco Industry
Tobacco Companies Involved in APPG’s Secretariat
From November 2016, UKVIA operated as Secretariat for the APPG. UKVIA’s membership is made up of small independent e-cigarette companies and the four main international tobacco companies: Japan Tobacco International (JTI), British American Tobacco (BAT), Philip Morris International (PMI), and Imperial Tobacco, which replaced its subsidiary Fontem Ventures as a member in 2019 (see image 1). All four are represented on the UKVIA board. Juul, an e-cigarette company in which American tobacco company Altria owns a 35% share, became a member in 2019.
Concerns were first raised in 2016 about the close relationship between the APPG and UKVIA. Between 2015 and 2019 the APPG declared ‘benefits in kind’ from the organisation of between £66,000 and £74,000 which was spent on running the APPG and its events.
The UKVIA is not currently listed on either the UK government’s voluntary Register of Consultant Lobbyists or the UK Lobbying Register, run by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations. For more information on UKVIA see our page UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA)
Previously, the APPG’s secretariat was run by London-based public affairs consultancy Abzed, which was paid by the Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association (ECITA) and tobacco company JTI to act as the Group’s secretariat.
Members Took Hospitality from Japan Tobacco International
Three members of the APPG have accepted tobacco industry hospitality in the past.
Pawsey, Chair of the APPG, attended a Rugby World Cup 2015 match in September, courtesy of JTI UK (owner of e-cigarette brand E-lites). A few months later the MP praised e-cigarettes in UK Parliament. Whilst JTI’s hospitality, worth £1,650, was declared in the Register of Member’s Interests it was not declared to the House of Commons ahead of Pawsey’s pro-e-cigarette comments.
Stephen Metcalfe MP, in 2017 the APPG’s Treasurer, took hospitality from JTI in 2011. He too accepted tickets and hospitality to the Chelsea Flower show, at the time worth £1,132.80. Metcalfe left the APPG in 2017 and joined the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee which submitted a “controversial” report on e-cigarettes to the government in August 2018.
Our page on Tobacco Industry Hospitality for UK Politicians lists other MPs who have also taken gifts and hospitality provided by tobacco companies.
Provided Lobbying Platform for Industry
Promoted Vaping in Parliament
In November 2017 the UKVIA published the APPG’s report “State of the Vaping Nation”, which referred to “misinformation” and “mixed messages” on vaping research and regulation, and argued that vaping helps to reduce smoking rates. The report was launched at a reception in Parliament attended by Norman Lamb MP, chair of the House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology, which had announced an enquiry into e-cigarettes a month earlier. At the reception Lamb said he had been “horrified” at the EU’s decision to regulate vaping products. According to UKVIA’s e-bulletin of 31 July 2018, Mark Pawsey MP, Sir Kevin Barron MP and Adam Afriyie MP all said at an APPG meeting on 11 July 2018 that they “would support reform to the e-cigarette elements of the Tobacco Products Directive”. However the meeting’s minutes only record Barron’s comments in relation to the TPD.
Since 2010, Afriyie has been Chair of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (Parliament’s “source of independent, balanced and accessible analysis of public-policy issues”) which produced a briefing on e-cigarettes in 2016.) He told the APPG meeting in July 2018:
“welcomed some big tobacco companies’ recognition that “the end of smoking in the UK” was near, and that they should work towards replacing cigarette sales with e-cigarette and e-liquid sales. He suggested that big tobacco would not mind if taxes on cigarettes continued to increase, as long as they could be sure that they could safely invest in a less hostile vaping market.”
According to the UKVIA website, an APPG meeting was due to be held on 11 September 2018 to discuss “the UK’s preparations for COP8” (the 2018 meeting of the Conference of the Parties, the FCTC’s governing body). Later that month, UKVIA released a statement urging the WHO to reverse vaping bans, and regulate e-cigarettes separately from “traditional combustible tobacco products”.  For more information on UKVIA lobbying the WHO, see UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA)
A second report by the APPG on “Vaping in Workplaces and Public Places”, was launched in November 2018, recommending that employers should allow vaping in the workplace. It also proposed that the Houses of Parliament should become “vape friendly” as an “example”. The work for this report appears to have been planned at a meeting of the APPG held the previous December, attended by Andrew Allison, head of campaigns at The Freedom Association; Martin Cullip, a pro-tobacco blogger; and MPs, including Ian Paisley Jr MP. At this meeting Afriyie challenged the precautionary principle in relation to vaping saying: “how in this case it could cost lives as the harms of smoking where [sic] already known”.
Allowed BAT to Launch Scheme in Parliament
In February 2019 trade magazines Talking Retail and The Grocer reported that BAT used an APPG meeting to promote their age verification scheme called “BAT Verify” and announce a “whistleblowing hotline” to report retailers selling e-cigarettes to under-18s. BAT reportedly had also used the meeting as an opportunity to suggest that the Department of Health should engage more with the industry. As of 3 May 2019 the meeting minutes, detailing attendance and activities, were not yet available.
Another APPG with tobacco industry links: All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on illicit trade
- Profile of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Vaping on the UK Parliamentary Register.
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- All-Party Parliamentary Group for Vaping, |Vaping in Workplaces and Public Places, UKVIA website, November 2018, accessed April 2019
- UK Vaping Industry Association, MPS Urge Employers to Make Workplaces More Vape-FriendlyUKVIA press release, accompanying APPG report, 20 November 2018, accessed April 2019
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- All-Party Parliamentary Group for Vaping, Minutes of APPG Meeting, 14 March 2018
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- UK Vaping Industry Association, Email reply to Tobacco Tactics editor 3 May 2019 11:38, subject: RE: Re: APPG for Vaping - missing minutes