Clause 1 - Sale of tobacco etc

Tobacco and Vapes Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 11:30 am ar 9 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Siobhain McDonagh Siobhain McDonagh Llafur, Mitcham and Morden

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Clause 2 stand part.

Clause 37 stand part.

Clause 41 stand part.

Clauses 48 and 49 stand part.

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

Clauses 1, 37 and 48 change the age of sale for tobacco products, herbal smoking products and cigarette papers so that no one born on or after 1 January 2009 will legally be sold those products in England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, respectively. That replaces the existing legislation, which sets the age of sale at 18 years old. The clauses are core to the ambition of being the first country in the world to create a smoke-free generation, which is supported by the public, including a majority of retailers: nearly 70% of people support our plan to create a smoke-free generation. But why is it necessary?

First, this new age of sale will save tens of thousands of lives. Tobacco is devastating for the health of smokers. It is the single biggest preventable cause of death, responsible for about 80,000 deaths in the UK each year. Smoking causes one in four cancer deaths, including 70% of lung cancer cases. It is not just those who smoke who experience the harms; second-hand smoke also causes enormous harm to children, through no choice of their own.

There is no safe age to smoke. We know that 75% of smokers would never have started if they had the choice again, and those who start smoking as a young adult lose an average of 10 years of life expectancy. As we heard from the chief medical officer for England in his oral evidence session, individual smokers should never be blamed for the situation they are in. An incredibly wealthy and sophisticated marketing industry deliberately addicted them to something, at the earliest age it could get away with, and they have had their choice removed.

Secondly, this measure will boost our economy. Each year, smoking costs our economy a minimum of £17 billion, which is far more than the £10 billion income per year that the Treasury receives from taxes on tobacco products. That is equivalent to 6.9p in every £1 of income tax received. Therefore, reducing the prevalence of smoking will reduce these costs, helping our economy to become more productive.

On that note, reducing smoking will also cut the burden on the NHS. As Sir Stephen Powis outlined in his oral evidence, smoking impacts the NHS at all levels. Almost every minute of every day, someone is admitted to hospital with a smoking-related disease and over 100 GP appointments every hour are because of smoking. Reducing this burden will allow us to invest more in vital care, focus on major conditions and cut waiting lists.

Thanks to years of decisive Government action and stop-smoking support, smoking rates are coming down, but we want to build a brighter future for our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I know that there are concerns about this policy, which were discussed at length on Second Reading. I want to reassure all colleagues that this policy is not about taking away people’s rights. There is no liberty in addiction and nicotine robs people of their freedom to choose.

I also urge all members of the Committee not to be taken in by the tobacco industry’s claims that the black market for tobacco products will boom. Before the legal smoking age was increased from 16 to 18, the tobacco industry sang from that same hymn sheet, but the facts drowned them out. The number of illicit cigarettes consumed actually fell by 25%, and smoking rates for 16 and 17-year-olds dropped by almost a third. In fact, consumption of illegal tobacco has plummeted from 17 billion cigarettes in 2000-01 to 3 billion cigarettes in 2022-2023.

To crack down on illicit tobacco and under-age tobacco and vape sales, we are putting an extra £30 million of new funding per year over five years into our enforcement agencies and we are working closely with enforcement colleagues to ensure that these measures are successfully implemented. And we have not forgotten current smokers. The measures in the Bill are accompanied by a suite of measures to support current smokers to quit. They include nearly doubling the funding for local stop-smoking services with an additional £70 million each year over the next five years, providing a new financial incentives programme to support pregnant women and their partners to quit, and providing additional funding for stop-smoking campaigns and to ensure that retailers and the public understand the changes in the law.

On Second Reading, there were also discussions about what products were in scope of the new restrictions. Let me clarify matters by saying that the new age of sale restrictions will apply to all tobacco products, including tobacco that is smoked, smokeless or chewed. When it is smoked, tobacco kills up to two thirds of its long-term users, and all smoked tobacco, including in shisha and cigars, is harmful. There is also clear evidence of the toxicity of heated tobacco in laboratory studies; the aerosol generated by heated tobacco contains carcinogens. I know that some of our colleagues have championed heated tobacco products as a smoking quit aid, but there are less harmful tobacco-free products that can support people to quit smoking.

Tobacco products such as paan, betel quid and chewing tobacco are also covered by the Bill. Tobacco that is not smoked is not a safe way to use tobacco. Using smokeless tobacco increases the risk of both mouth cancer and oesophageal cancer.

Photo of Bob Blackman Bob Blackman Ceidwadwyr, Harrow East

I thank my right hon. Friend for the speech she is making and of course I absolutely support all the measures in the Bill. One concern, which I think was raised on Second Reading, about paan and chewing tobacco is that they are currently not specified very clearly in the Bill. Is she planning to introduce any further measures, either in Committee or in regulation, to address this concern? One of the problems is that at the moment those products are freely sold in a range of different environments.

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

First, I pay tribute to my hon. Friend for his very long-standing campaign to stamp out nicotine and tobacco. He is absolutely right that we will need to make it very clear to members of the public, retailers and health organisations our intention to stamp out all tobacco products, because they are all unsuitable for our smoke-free generation. I will make a note of his concern, take it away and make sure that the legislation makes things as clear as it possibly can.

The Bill also applies to cigarette papers, as do current age of sale restrictions. Their bleaches and dyes add to the volume of smoke and the range of toxicants in the smoke, contributing additional risks to smokers. Likewise, herbal cigarettes are included in the legislation, as they are harmful to health. Although their smoke does not contain nicotine or tobacco, it does contain cancer-causing chemicals, tar and carbon monoxide similar to a tobacco cigarette.

I will briefly mention clause 41, which amends the Scottish legislation to include herbal smoking products under provisions for age of sale, age verification policy, sales by under-18s, proxy purchasing and vending machines. With their harms outlined above, it is right that herbal smoking products be included within the current and future tobacco control legislation. By extending this legislation, Scotland will be aligned with the other UK nations. This measure will also support the effective implementation and enforcement of the Bill by providing consistency for enforcement officers, industry, retailers and consumers across the UK.

To complement the smoke-free generation policy, we are also bringing forward clause 2, which makes it an offence for someone over the age of 18 to purchase tobacco products, herbal smoking products or cigarette papers on behalf of someone born on or after 1 January 2009 in England and Wales; this is known as proxy purchasing. Proxy purchasing of these products by an adult for someone under age is already prohibited; the clause makes it an offence for any adult to buy these products for someone in the smoke-free generation—that is, born on or after 1 January 2009. That means someone might be caught by the offence if they are also too young to be sold the products themselves, but we did not want to overcomplicate the application of this offence.

We hope this measure will send a clear message to stop people trying to buy products for people under the age of sale. Proxy purchasing in Scotland and Northern Ireland will also be updated through clauses 37 and 48 to align with the new age of sale. These provisions are essential to ensure there are no loopholes in the age of sale legislation, and build on what we have found to work in the current age of sale legislation.

Finally, I present clause 49 to the Committee. The clause amends a provision in the Health and Personal Social Services (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 to provide the Department of Health in Northern Ireland with the power to amend the definition of “sale” to mean “sale by retail”. If the power is used, only sales from a retailer to a customer will be caught by the tobacco age of sale offence, which will therefore not include business to business sales, such as sales between a wholesaler and a retailer. This measure would bring the type of sales caught by the tobacco age of sale offence in Northern Ireland in line with those in England, Wales and Scotland. Fundamentally, the clauses included in this group are essential to implementing the smoke-free generation policy.

There is both strong cross-party and cross-nation support for these measures. It is clear that we all acknowledge the need to protect future generations from the harms of smoking. No one wants their children to ever start smoking. In England alone, it could prevent almost half a million cases of heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and other deadly diseases by the turn of the century, increasing thousands of people’s quality of life and reducing pressures on our NHS. Thanks to the collaborative work we have undertaken with the devolved Administrations, we have produced a Bill that will save lives right across the United Kingdom. I therefore commend these clauses to the Committee.

Photo of Preet Kaur Gill Preet Kaur Gill Shadow Minister (Primary Care and Public Health)

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairship, Dame Siobhain, and to serve on this Bill Committee. I will start with some general remarks about the context of this legislation.

This is an important Bill. As we heard on Second Reading, there is vanishingly little opposition to the central point that nicotine addiction is a scourge on our society, and that it is right the Government take steps to reduce its harms. Nicotine addiction cuts lives short and worsens healthy life expectancy disproportionately among more deprived communities; the toll it takes on the economy, and in particular on our NHS, far outweighs any benefit the Exchequer receives in taxes.

Labour proposed a progressive increase in the age of sale for tobacco in January 2023, and the Minister can be reassured that we will continue to support this Bill. If Labour win the next election—if we are privileged enough to do so—we will implement it. It will be a pleasure to genuinely lead the world on tobacco control, given that tobacco kills an estimated 8 million people a year.

Photo of Siobhain McDonagh Siobhain McDonagh Llafur, Mitcham and Morden

I am sorry to intervene, but you are very softly spoken—I think some people are struggling to hear.

Photo of Preet Kaur Gill Preet Kaur Gill Shadow Minister (Primary Care and Public Health) 11:45, 9 Mai 2024

Right. However, that brings me to my second point. The Bill provides a number of powers for the Secretary of State to make secondary legislation, particularly on vapes. It is therefore important that we think carefully about how to achieve the objective of stopping young people from getting addicted to nicotine in the first place. Whoever the Government are after the next election, they will likely inherit those regulations, and some of them can be deceptively tricky to get right.

I want to ensure that whoever the next Government are, they have the powers they need to get a grip on this issue given that so recently this Government have not done so—when one in three vapes on the market is illicit, when youth vaping has trebled in two years, and when gaping loopholes in the law have undermined enforcement and put children at risk.

Vaping is a valuable stop-smoking tool, but those trends are a serious concern. There are areas where the Bill can be strengthened, and I hope the Minister will listen closely to our arguments. The Bill is an opportunity to think about not just the public health challenge as it manifests today, but the challenge we will face in 10 years’ time. That is what a real agenda on prevention must do.

When the last Labour Government took office, one in four people in the country was a smoker. Every pub we walked into was clouded with the fumes, and one in 10 of our 11 to 15-year-olds smoked. When we banned smoking in public spaces and raised the age of sale to 18, we were met with a lot of opposition. Some of the charges put to us were like the ones we heard on Second Reading: that the law would be unenforceable, that it was an attack on working people and their culture, that it would fuel the illicit market, and so on. None of them held up.

Today the idea that children should be allowed to smoke or that non-smokers should have to tolerate deadly second-hand smoke is unthinkable. No one would think of making those arguments now. Just as the opponents of that legislation were wrong then, they are wrong now. Since 2007, the number of people who smoke has been cut by almost a third. The percentage of 15-year-olds who smoke regularly has dropped from 20% to 3%, and our understanding of second-hand smoke has grown. There has been a culture shift around where it is acceptable to smoke. Even at home, people go outside to smoke instead of smoking in front of their children. The year after the smoking ban came into effect, there were 1,200 fewer hospital admissions for heart attacks according to The BMJ.

Photo of Dr Caroline Johnson Dr Caroline Johnson Ceidwadwyr, Sleaford and North Hykeham

Could the hon. Lady tell me about the consumption of nicotine among people once the Government had brought in the smoking ban in public places? Was there a reduction in nicotine consumption among the people who continued to smoke because of the restrictions on where they could do so?

Photo of Preet Kaur Gill Preet Kaur Gill Shadow Minister (Primary Care and Public Health)

I have just said that after the smoking ban came into effect, there were 1,200 fewer hospital admissions for heart attacks. We saw a drop in people smoking—the data from The BMJ is already out there. By working towards a smoke-free future by progressively raising the age of sale, I hope that this Parliament can leave a similar legacy.

I turn to clause 1 and its equivalents for the devolved nations—probably the most important clauses in the Bill. Clause 1 of course changes the age of sale for tobacco products from 18 to a set date of 1 January 2009, meaning that anyone born on or after that date will never be able to legally buy cigarettes. It will progressively raise the age of sale by one year every year, so that the generation who are 15 now will—we hope—never smoke.

When the shadow Secretary of State, my hon. Friend Wes Streeting, proposed the measure in January 2023, it was because we know that it will take fresh, radical thinking on public health to take the pressure off the NHS and get our ambition for a smoke-free future back on track. The rationale for the progressive approach, compared with what some MPs have argued for in raising the age of sale to 21, is that it is a radical but realistic way of phasing out tobacco over time. It means that no one loses a right they already have, but it does not limit its ambition to young people —there is no safe age to smoke.

I hope that a lead-in time of three years will be enough for us to get support to those under-18s who already smoke, so they are not affected by the time the legislation comes in. Will the Minister say whether she is planning a targeted campaign to ensure that we reach those young people, perhaps by working through schools? Almost two thirds of long-term smokers began smoking before they were 18. University College London has calculated that every day around 350 young adults aged 18 to 25 start smoking regularly, risking being trapped in a lifetime of addiction and premature death. The vast majority of smokers and ex-smokers—85%—regret ever starting in the first place, but it is infamously difficult to quit. Stopping people from starting is the single best way of saving them from a lifetime of potentially deadly addiction.

I reject the suggestion that the legislation will be uniquely difficult to implement or enforce. Labour raised the age of sale in 2007, and that is well understood and widely enforced.

Shopkeepers are already used to enforcing age of sale legislation, and we have initiatives like Challenge 25, so it would not be until 2034 that we enter the uncharted territory of routinely checking the age of customers who look 26 years old. I would expect by then that we would already be beginning to see a considerable reduction in the number of people still smoking under that age, but even then, arguably this legislation makes implementation easier: instead of having to ask for someone’s ID to compare their birth date against the current date, which involves doing maths in one’s head, it will be as simple as checking against one static date every time. I do not want to insult the intelligence of anyone working in retail, but that has formed part of the arguments of some of the Bill’s opponents, so I really want to call that out.

As for the right to feel protected and confident in their jobs, there is no doubt that violence against shop workers has risen in recent years, but that is why we in the Opposition have long campaigned for violence against shop workers to be a separate criminal offence. As with much recent legislation, I am glad that the Government have seen sense and followed Labour’s lead on that, too.

I know that some libertarian Conservative MPs have a philosophical objection to this legislation—the Business and Trade Secretary is one—but let us be honest: if we had known the social, public health and economic harms of smoking that we now know, would we not have legislated in similar terms long ago? Let us be clear: addiction is not freedom. The impact of second-hand smoke on the children of smokers is not freedom. It is certainly no freedom if, as is the case for two thirds of long-term smokers, one’s life is cut short as a result of smoking. It should be a source of pride if, from having the highest smoking rates in the world, we can successfully introduce genuinely world-leading legislation to phase out tobacco for good.

I want to make some brief remarks on other clauses. I have no substantial concerns about clause 2. For the Bill to work, it cannot be possible for adults over the legal age to buy tobacco on behalf of others who cannot buy it. It is obviously right that the clause avoids criminalising children by specifying that it applies to over-18s in its alignment with the commencement date in 2027. I see no issue with that.

I do, however, have questions about implementation. We have spoken a lot about physical retailers but less about online retailers. This is undoubtedly an enforcement challenge and I wonder what the Minister can say on that. In response to the consultation, the Government said that they were exploring how to enhance online age verification so that young people under the legal age cannot buy age-restricted products online. What progress have the Government made since the consultation response was published in February?

On clause 37, I want to pick up on the specifics of the Scottish age verification policy. Will the Minister explain the Government’s view on introducing additional requirements for retailers to establish an age-of-sale policy in the rest of the United Kingdom, in addition to the requirements in clause 1? I understand that the Bill would require the existing Challenge 25 policy to stay in effect in Scotland with legal force until the end of 2033, at which point over-25s will be within the legislation’s scope and then 1 January 2009 would take precedence again.

Finally, on clause 41, we support the amendment to Scottish regulations to include herbal cigarettes. Herbal cigarettes may not include tobacco or nicotine, but they are still harmful to health. Their smoke still contains cancer-causing chemicals, tar and carbon monoxide, similar to a tobacco cigarette. I am glad to see an alignment of approach across the UK nations on the point that no smoking product should be left out of the Bill’s scope. We also have no problem with the inclusion of clauses 48 and 49 to change tobacco control laws in Northern Ireland to align with the approach that we have discussed.

I reiterate that the Opposition support these clauses and we will reject attempts to amend them that would water them down. I would be grateful if the Minister responded to my questions.

Photo of Bob Blackman Bob Blackman Ceidwadwyr, Harrow East

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Dame Siobhain. I rise to support the proposals outlined by the Minister. It came as quite a shock that one of the recommendations of the Khan review was that the age-of-sale be raised by a year every year. We on the all-party group on smoking and health —I declare my interest—thought that we would end up simply raising the age from 18 to 21, but I am delighted that we have moved from that position to one of literally creating a smoke-free generation.

The key point will always be free choice—the free choice that is made is to smoke that first cigarette; after that, the individual is addicted. To colleagues of mine who may be listening or considering this as an issue of freedom of choice, I say that one only makes one choice. After that, there is no choice because one is addicted and therefore required to continue to fuel that addiction. It is vital that we create this smoke-free generation.

One of the fundamental issues is enforcement rules and premises—I know we will come to that, so I will not pre-judge it, but this will be key. One of my concerns —I ask the Minister to think about this—is what will happen about duty-free sales and provisions that, at the moment, are outside the scope of the Bill. There will be temptations for young people on trips abroad to buy cigarettes, either abroad or at duty-free, and bring them back, or for others to do so and provide them to young people. Clearly, we would all want that to be an offence, but as I read the Bill, the provisions do not cover that. We need to think about strengthening the legislation in that area.

I do not want to go on for a long time; I am delighted with the Bill. I have been campaigning for this sort of action for many years, so it is a delight to see. We need to get it on the statute book as fast as possible.

Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Labour/Co-operative, York Central

It is a pleasure to see you in the Chair, Dame Siobhan. Let me open by welcoming the Bill. I think the Government have taken a brave and bold step in introducing such a significant public health intervention. I worked in respiratory medicine for 20 years, and I saw the devastating impact of smoking on so many of my patients.

We must remember that the industry exists in order to ensure that its customers become addicted to their product: nicotine. It profits as a result, as we learned in the evidence sessions, from some of the poorest communities in our country. The Bill will address not only that gross inequality, but the behaviours of the industry and, in particular, it will ensure that we have a healthier future going forward. The tobacco-free generation measures will have such an impact on young people as they grow up.

We also need to ensure that the public health messages are really driven home. As colleagues have said, there is no liberty once someone has started smoking. There is no liberation because they become enslaved to addiction—to the highly addictive product, nicotine. It is therefore important that the Bill is passed to give that liberty to so many people who regret having commenced the journey of smoking. We need to remind everybody that once they start smoking, it is incredibly difficult to give up. Smoking is a product that kills two thirds of its customers. Therefore, the only people who benefit from smoking are the industry, which profits extensively from the misery of others.

I will certainly support the Bill through its passage, but I believe that there are areas where it can be strengthened. One, in particular, is advertising. We know that this pernicious industry has learned so well how to get around legislation at every turn. It has been incredibly difficult to ensure that the legislation encapsulates the safeguards needed to prevent the industry from doing that, but I do think that there are some loopholes in the Bill that need to be addressed around promotion, advertising, sponsorship and ensuring that retailers are supported in relation to age verification.

Simplifying things in the Bill will help everybody when it is fully implemented. We have Challenge 25; it is easily understood, and young people are used to showing their ID. Introducing that here would be a logical step in being able to see those restraints, and it will also mean that there is no variation in how shopkeepers will apply the law. It will take out inequality for their sake, too. I hope that the Minister reflects on that as we get to those points in the Bill.

I also ask the Minister if she will consider the implications for the visitor economy. It is incredibly important for people in the UK to understand and grow up knowing that they will not be able to purchase or be provided with tobacco products if they are born after 1 January 2009, but the visitor economy will clearly not have that understanding. I think it is the Minister’s role to be a global ambassador for the contents of this Bill to ensure that it is well understood. That includes new communities who come to the UK and will be subject to this legislation. We know that the highest rise in smoking in our communities right now is among asylum seekers and refugees who have come from countries where there is a high prevalence of smoking. I trust that the Minister will take on board the need to ensure that new communities really understand the measures within this legislation for their health and their understanding of how we are taking a proactive step on public health measures.

As the Bill goes through its passage, I will raise specific issues where I believe it can be improved, but I want to start on a very positive note by saying that this is the kind of legislation we need to ensure that our young people growing up today know that smoking kills, and this legislation will save their lives.

Photo of Kirsten Oswald Kirsten Oswald Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Women), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Equalities) 12:00, 9 Mai 2024

I, too, welcome the provisions in the Bill and the contributions that have been made so far from both sides of the House. It is very important that we have a collective voice on this, wherever possible. We know that smoking is a leading cause of preventable death in Scotland and the rest of the UK. In 2022, smoking accounted for an estimated 8,942 deaths of those aged 35 and above in Scotland. We have also heard about the significant impact that smoking has on those who are already suffering from inequality and are in the most disadvantaged situations in our community.

The work on the Bill has been constructive, and it contains a number of measures pushed for by the Scottish Government; of course, part 2 specifically relates to Scotland. Jenni Minto, the Scottish Public Health Minister, has spoken positively about how Scotland has dealt with tobacco control measures, being a world leader. Although we know that there has been a reduction in the proportion of people smoking, it is still damaging far too many lives and killing too many people. We heard about the huge damage to the capacity of our NHS because of the difficulties caused by smoking, and the damage to people’s lives.

Scotland has long led the UK on tobacco control. We in the SNP really welcome this collaborative step towards creating a smoke-free generation. As the first UK nation to introduce an indoor smoking ban, and having led on the overhaul of tobacco sale and display law, we can clearly see the important steps we are taking and the significant, positive impact on public health that is possible. We support the new age regime and the greater powers for Scottish Ministers to tackle youth smoking and vaping. It would be very helpful to hear further about how it is anticipated that the powers will be used. We need to make sure that this works in practice.

I close by reflecting what others have said about the uniquely lethal and addictive nature of smoking, and the far-reaching problems it causes in people’s lives. We need to take whatever steps we can to prevent this addiction—so enthusiastically encouraged by the marketing teams of these industries—from taking hold in the first place. It is really important that we take all the steps available to us while we have this unique opportunity. We need to look at closing some small gaps, which I am sure we will discuss further. I would be very happy to hear from the Government Front Bench team about sponsorship, which is an interest of mine in terms of vapes, but I hope that we can make constructive progress on making this Bill a reality.

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

I appreciate the clear cross-party support for the measures in the Bill. I understand that hon. Members will have views on ways to amend or strengthen it, but I urge the Committee to appreciate how little time we have. As we heard clearly from last week’s evidence sessions—from the chief medical officers from all parts of the United Kingdom and from so many medical professionals—this is a very good Bill, so let us not make the perfect the enemy of the good. Let us get this through.

I very much appreciate the welcome of all colleagues, and I assure them all that I will take away any suggestions and requests and come back with clear answers. Where something is relatively simple to do, we will seek to do that, but equally, as Members will appreciate, it is not always possible to accept every suggestion, no matter how well-meaning—and I absolutely accept that, in this Bill, it is always well-meaning.

I will answer the points that hon. Members specifically raised. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston asked about how we will encourage young people to quit smoking at an early stage. She will be aware that there are lots of measures to try to help people to stop, including the financial incentives that we are providing, particularly for those expecting a baby and their partners. There are also the quit aids to help people to swap to stop—to move to vapes, which I think we all recognise can be a useful quit aid. They are not harmless, but are less harmful than smoking cigarettes.

We are working at pace with online retailers on how to support them to ensure age verification, and I hope that we will be able to say more about that. The issue of duty-free sales is a tricky one, as my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow East will appreciate, because we do not want to put the burden of legality on the purchaser. The idea is that it should be illegal to sell, and, of course, we have jurisdiction only in the United Kingdom, but I take his points on board and will come back to him on that.

The hon. Member for York Central is right that we need to do everything we can to stop advertising. There are already very strict rules around advertising, and smoking and vaping are severely restricted when it comes to advertising to children. But I think—I hope that the hon. Lady will agree—that the vaping measures, including the powers to limit packaging, flavours and in locations in stores, will do a lot to reduce the appeal to children, which I know we are all incredibly concerned about.

Photo of Dr Caroline Johnson Dr Caroline Johnson Ceidwadwyr, Sleaford and North Hykeham

I say, first, that I fully support this Bill and what it intends to do. Having worked in respiratory medicine in my very first job as a doctor, I saw far too many people suffering from and dying of respiratory illness, and suffering through the final years of their life due to respiratory illness caused by smoking. I think this is excellent legislation.

My right hon. Friend talked about advertising being quite restricted, but, with vaping, we see sports teams—rugby teams and football teams—using vaping brands as adverts for children. These are not recreational substances, or should not be recreational substances. They are supposed to be quit aids and do not need advertising where children can see them.

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

My hon. Friend makes an extremely good point. She will be interested to know that I have recently written to the Advertising Standards Authority to ask about how well it considers enforcement to be working, and what more it can do to enforce the already strict regulations. I am happy to share its response, when it comes, with all members of the Committee.

Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Labour/Co-operative, York Central

I am really grateful to the Minister for the work that she is doing in this area, but clearly, for vaping, there is not equality with smoking in terms of an advertising ban. For simplicity’s sake, equalising the law would make a significant difference. We often think about packaging in shops, but today, the social media space is an incredibly powerful tool that young people are exposed to on a continuous basis. Therefore, extending the advertising, promotion and sponsorship ban could have such a significant impact, and it could be legislated for simply. As we have got so accustomed to the advertising ban for tobacco products, it can simply be translated for vapes. Will the Minister look into that?

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

With your permission, Dame Siobhain, I will take the intervention on the same subject from the hon. Member for East Renfrewshire.

Photo of Kirsten Oswald Kirsten Oswald Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Women), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Equalities)

Is the Minister able to tell us a bit more about the interaction with the Advertising Standards Authority? What jurisdiction does it have in relation to the advertising of vapes on football strips, for instance? Is it not in fact our job to deal with that, rather than the job of the Advertising Standards Authority?

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

In response to all those points, I am extremely sympathetic to the need to clamp down on advertising. It seemed to me, when I came to the Bill, that it was important to get a “Where are we now?”-type assessment of what the current regulations say, how well they are being enforced and what more needs to be done. Like many colleagues, I am interested to hear what the Advertising Standards Authority has to say about that, and I am sure we will come back to this subject.

The hon. Member for York Central raised age verification. As she knows, retailers will be required to challenge and seek age verification from those who are born on or after 1 January 2009. As the Bill continues its passage, we will look at the amendments that have been tabled and consider whether there is a need to change that age verification requirement. At the moment, I think the Bill strikes the right balance. As I said at the beginning, it is essential that we make progress with the Bill in the short time remaining in this Parliament.

The hon. Lady’s points about the visitor economy were well made. It is essential that we ensure wide communication about the new measures in stores, at the point of sale; to retailers, who will have just over two years to enforce this legislation and undertake the training; and to members of the public. I commend the clauses to the Committee.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 1 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 2 ordered to stand part of the Bill.