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Sunak confirms Tobacco and Vapes Bill will not become law before election

May 24, 2024

Photo: iStock

Prime minister Rishi Sunak’s plan to ban smoking for younger generations will not become law after he called a snap election leaving no time to push through one of his flagship policies.

“The smoking ban, of course, disappointed not to be able to get that through at the end of the session given the time available,” Sunak told reporters on Friday.

Sunak had wanted to bring in some of the world’s strictest anti-smoking rules by banning anyone aged 15 and under from ever buying cigarettes, but the Tobacco and Vapes Bill, which also proposed tougher restrictions on vape sales, was left off the parliamentary agenda, leading to speculation it would be shelved.

He called an election for July 4 on Wednesday, giving the government just days to complete outstanding legislative business in a so-called “wash-up” period.

In his speech calling for the election, Sunak had boasted that his government had ensured the next generation would be “smoke-free”.

But that claim – seen as a key part of his intended legacy – will be undermined without the anti-smoking bill becoming law, even if the next government reintroduces the legislation.

The Tobacco and Vapes Bill had passed its first parliamentary hurdle in April despite dozens of lawmakers in Sunak’s Conservative party voting against it.

Penny Mordaunt, the House of Commons leader, did not list the bill on Thursday in the business scheduled to be debated before parliament shuts down for the election. She said cross-party negotiations were ongoing over the future of bills not included in the schedule.

Whichever party wins the next election the bill could be reintroduced as the opposition Labour Party, which is ahead in opinion polls, said it would push for a ban if forms the next government.