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22 March 2024 – Tobacco and Vapes Bill

If the Bill is enacted children turning 15 this year or younger will never legally be able to be sold tobacco. The Bill will make it an offence to sell tobacco products to those born on or after 1 January 2009, thereby phasing out the sale of tobacco products while not stopping anyone who currently legally smokes from being able to do so. 


Smoking is the UK’s single biggest preventable killer and costs the NHS and the economy an estimated £17 billion a year. Every year around 76,000 people in the UK die from smoking, with many more living with debilitating smoking-related illnesses.


Smoking is highly addictive, with 4 in 5 smokers starting before the age of 20. The Bill is designed to prevent the estimated 350 18-25 year olds who become regular smokers everyday from ever starting to smoke. 


The existing legislation will also be amended to make it an offence for anyone over 18 to purchase tobacco products on behalf of those born on or after the 1 January 2009.


All tobacco products are in scope of the age of sale restriction changes, meaning that a product consisting wholly or partly of tobacco and intended to be smoked, sniffed, sucked, chewed or consumed in any other way, will be caught. Herbal smoking products and cigarette papers are also in scope. This broadly mirrors the existing age of sale legislation. 


This means that products in scope include:

  • cigarettes
  • hand rolled tobacco
  • cigars
  • cigarillos
  • pipe tobacco
  • waterpipe tobacco products (for example shisha)
  • chewing tobacco
  • heated tobacco
  • nasal tobacco
  • herbal smoking products
  • cigarette papers.


In response to a huge rise in the number of children using vapes, the Bill will also introduce new powers to restrict vape flavours and packaging that is intentionally marketed at children. 


The powers will also allow government to change how vapes are displayed in shops, moving them out of sight of children and away from products that appeal to them, like sweets.


The long-term health impacts of vaping are unknown and the nicotine contained within them can be highly addictive, with withdrawal sometimes causing anxiety, trouble concentrating and headaches. While vaping can play a role in helping adult smokers to quit, children should never vape. 


Under the Bill, enforcement officers’ powers will also be strengthened with ‘on the spot fines’ of £100 to uphold the new laws and clamp down on underage sales of tobacco and vaping products. 


This builds on a maximum £2,500 fine that local authorities can already impose. It will also no longer be legal to give free samples of vapes to under 18s.


Additionally, the government has committed to ban the sale and supply of disposable vapes from April 2025 under separate environmental legislation. Disposable vapes have been a key driver behind the alarming rise in youth vaping, with the proportion of 11 to 17 year old vapers using disposables increasing almost ninefold in the last 2 years.


The Tobacco and Vapes Bill if implemented - is an opportunity to turn the tide on the impacts of smoking on the UK population and give the UK population the best chance of good health.

West Berkshire