Rishi Sunak faces Tory Rebellion over Smoking Ban Bill

Rishi Sunak is facing a rebellion from Conservative Party members over the landmark smoking bill, with several expected to oppose it.

Rishi Sunak faces Tory Rebellion over Smoking Ban Bill f

Shops that flout the rules will face on-the-spot fines.

Rishi Sunak is facing another rebellion from his party over his plans to introduce a bill that will ban young people from smoking.

If the Tobacco and Vapes Bill is passed into law, it would be an offence to sell tobacco products to anyone born after January 1, 2009.

This means children aged 15 or younger today will never legally be able to buy a cigarette.

The plan was one of the PM’s three key policies announced at the Conservative Party conference in 2023.

However, some Tory members have criticised the ban, meaning Mr Sunak may have to rely on support from opposition parties to get the bill over the line.

Liz Truss has opposed the ban and described the plans as “profoundly unconservative” while Boris Johnson has called the move “nuts”.

Tory MPs have been granted a free vote on the legislation and several are expected to oppose it when it has its first full debate in the Commons on April 16, 2024.

However, Labour will back the proposals, making it likely the legislation will clear this first hurdle regardless of Conservative opposition.

The bill would not criminalise smoking itself and those aged 18 or over can buy cigarettes without legal repercussions.

But older people may have to carry ID if they want to buy cigarettes in the future.

The ban aims to stop people from smoking even before they start as the government pointed to its highly addictive nature with four in five smokers picking it up before the age of 20, remaining addicted for life.

Shops that flout the rules will face on-the-spot fines.

It will be money which the government says will be used for further crackdowns.

Earlier in 2023, New Zealand’s new coalition government repealed what would have been a world-first ban on young people ever being able to buy cigarettes.

Smoking is the UK’s biggest preventable killer and is responsible for about 80,000 deaths every year, causing cancer, lung and heart diseases and chronic bronchitis among other health issues.

The Department of Health and Social Care said in England alone, almost every minute someone with a smoking-related condition is admitted to hospital.

It also costs the NHS and economy an estimated £17 billion a year – exceeding the £10 billion annual revenue brought in from tobacco taxes.

Victoria Atkins, health and social care secretary, said the bill would “save thousands of lives”, help the NHS and improve the UK’s productivity.

Ms Atkins said: “The truth is that there is no safe level of tobacco consumption.

“It is uniquely harmful and that is why we are taking this important action today to protect the next generation.”

Numerous figures have reiterated their support for the bill.

These include Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Chris Whitty, Deborah Arnott, head of charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), and the chief of the British Heart Foundation, Dr Charmaine Griffiths.

Ms Arnott said: “New research published by ASH shows that the majority of tobacco retailers and the public, including smokers, support the legislation and the smoke-free generation ambition it is designed to deliver.

“This historic legislation will consign smoking to the ‘ash heap of history’.”

Dhiren is a News & Content Editor who loves all things football. He also has a passion for gaming and watching films. His motto is to "Live life one day at a time".

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