“If we want to change the direction of our country and build a better future for our children, that means tackling the single biggest entirely preventable cause of ill-health, disability and death: smoking,” announced the Government.
“The Bill will implement the hard but necessary decisions to get the country on the right path for the future. There is no more addictive product that is legally sold in our shops than tobacco — and four fifths of smokers start before the age of twenty - which is why ‘stopping the start’ of addiction is vital.”
In summary, the Bill will:
- create the first smokefree generation so children born on or after 1 January 2009 (turning 14 this year or younger) will never be able to be legally sold cigarettes. This will mean effectively raising the age of sale by one year each year for this generation, to prevent them and future generations from ever taking up smoking in the first place – because there is no safe age to smoke.
- further crack down on youth vaping. The Government is looking at new regulations to reduce the appeal and availability of vapes to children – while ensuring that vapes remain available for adult smokers to quit. [The Government] are consulting now on how to get this balance right, with proposals including: restricting the flavours and descriptions of vapes so they are no longer targeted at children; regulating point of sale displays so that vapes are kept out of sight of children; regulating vape packaging and product presentation, ensuring that neither are targeted to children and closing loopholes in the law which allow children to get free samples and buy non-nicotine vapes.
- strengthen enforcement activity with new powers to fine, on the spot, rogue retailers who sell tobacco products or vapes to people underage. [The Government] will simultaneously crackdown on illegal online sales by enhancing online age verification to stop the sale of tobacco products and vapes to underage people online.
The Government added: “We will not criminalise smoking – nor will anyone who can legally be sold cigarettes today be prevented from being so in the future. It is already illegal to sell vapes to under 18s and the age of sale is not changing.”
Responses to the King’s speech will follow in an article tomorrow.