Climate change is all around us and it is being acted on. While vaping could be the next public health crisis, says MP Simon Hoare
I want to try to cover two issues this month: the first is around the environment and the second on a public health matter.
We have gone through an incredibly dry weather period here in North Dorset, punctuated by just two heavy episodes of rain. From looking parched and somewhat ‘Augusty’, after the latest deluge the verges, gardens and fields are now looking a little fresher. Whichever way you look at it, our climate, and therefore the environment, is changing. It is no longer something anyone can ignore, or tuck away in the ‘too difficult’ drawer. I take the issue of climate change seriously and am proud of the record of the government since 2010 in driving forward the green, renewables agenda.
We saw strong leadership provided at COP in Glasgow, have overseen a massive expansion of offshore wind and solar power generation, a focus on electric vehicles and the greening of the wider economy. There has been a significant tilt in the daily percentage of power generated in the UK from renewable sources, and a realisation that maximising domestic, renewable energy security is as important as defence or food security.
The ground breaking Environment Act points the way to a more nature-rich, biodiverse and secure natural environment. We often forget that it was this government, the first among developed economy nations, that legislated for Net Zero by 2050.
We are of course in a period of transition right now. Climate change sceptics point to the increase in costs to support renewable investments – and they are correct.
But how much higher the cost of a degraded and destroyed world, rendered unfit by man’s own hand, for man’s habitation? I did not come into politics to witness a cultish global suicide pact. Those who are fully committed to addressing climate change worry that progress is not being made quickly enough. That all use of non-renewable power sources should stop now.
Of course, the goal is desirable and attainable but we do have to keep the lights on, manufacturers manufacturing etc while we progress to that destination. Where things can be speeded up I will continue to press, but confidence in the commitment of the government to achieve progress cannot be in serious question.
On vapes and teens
The second issue I want to touch on is teenage health. ‘Safe sex, don’t smoke, healthy diets, exercise, sensible alcohol consumption, no drugs’ – they are all part of the parent and carer’s mantra. It is only in recent weeks that media coverage and political narrative has turned to vaping.
Somehow, plumes of dubiously sweet flavoured smoke can be inhaled and exhaled with impunity. It’s a flammable fruit juice isn’t? Perfectly safe isn’t it? Entirely harmless?
Well, I would urge parents – and in fact all those who are using vapes as the ‘well it’s not a cigarette’ option – to take a look online, see some of the chemicals that go into vapes.
Then ask a very simple question: if that was in food would I buy it? Let my child eat it?
Government is alert to the issue and the Prime Minister is taking a lead. Locally I am particularly concerned (I declare an interest here – from September, my three children will be attending school in the town) to see two vape shops in Gillingham, one adjacent to a sweet and party shop! Two vape shops within striking distance of a very large high school – a coincidence or a deliberate marketing decision?
You can probably guess what I think.
I do not want, and neither does the government, to see vaping – and its potentially addictive and adverse health effects – become the next public health challenge.