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Devon MP explains why he didn’t vote on smoke ban

Saturday, 20 April 2024 09:27

By Guy Henderson, local democracy reporter

Cigarette smoking (image courtesy: Reza Mehrad/Unsplash)

He says adults should be able to make up their own minds

Torbay MP Kevin Foster has explained why he abstained from voting on the government’s controversial Tobacco and Vapes Bill.

He said the current law on vaping needed updating to protect children, but adults should be allowed to make up their own minds.

MPs have backed the plan which would ban anyone born after 2009 from ever buying cigarettes legally. The measures were championed by prime minister Rishi Sunak and survived despite opposition from leading Tories including former PMs Liz Truss and Boris Johnson.

The bill passed by 383 votes to 67, and will make the UK’s anti-smoking laws some of the world’s strictest if it becomes law.

Mr Foster said after the vote: “There is a need to overhaul and update the laws on vaping, especially to tackle the growing problems with children doing so. This aspect of the bill is welcome and has my support.

“Where my concerns come is with the proposal for a ‘generational ban’.”

He said no-one believed children or young people should smoke, and the long-term negative health impacts were clear. Fewer people are now smoking in the UK.

“If the proposal in the bill had been to move the purchasing age for tobacco to 21, I would have voted for it,” said Mr Foster. “This would tackle the issue with those picking up the habit in their mid-to-late teens and being unable to stop later in life.

“Yet the suggestion of changing the purchasing age every year, would see many businesses and retailers having to cope with a constantly changing law, bringing costs and legal uncertainty.

“There is also a fundamental question about what role should the government play in deciding for people what they should do. This proposal was directly aimed at eventually banning smoking for all adults, deciding for them.

“While I would advise anyone thinking of smoking not to – and if you are smoking to give up now – passing a law to ban this is not the step to take.”

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