Clause 5 - Age of sale notice at point of sale: England

Tobacco and Vapes Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 12:15 pm 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 6 stand part.

Clause 42 stand part.

Clause 50 stand part.

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

Clauses 5 and 6 introduce a requirement for age of sale notices in England and Wales to align with the new age of sale for tobacco products. Additionally, clause 42 provides Scottish Ministers and clause 50 provides the Department of Health in Northern Ireland with the powers to make provisions about warning statements. Warning statements are notices that reflect the new age of sale requirements. Age of sale notices currently must state in a prominent position:

“It is illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18”.

Clauses 5 and 6 update the wording of the notices so that they now reflect the requirements of the new age of sale. They will therefore state:

“It is illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone born on or after 1 January 2009”,

alongside the Welsh translation of the statement in Wales.

Additionally, under clauses 5 and 6, the Secretary of State and Welsh Ministers have been granted powers to introduce further requirements on the size or appearance of the notice. This allows for colour requirements and other changes to be introduced in the future should they be needed. Clauses 42 and 50 provide Scottish Ministers and the Department of Health in Northern Ireland with the same powers to set requirements.

Similar powers on the appearance of the age of sale notices have previously been included in legislation and regulations have been made, but these powers broaden the scope of the provisions. We do not anticipate requiring further amendments beyond the text of the age of sale notices prior to the change in the age of sale.

The updated wording on age of sale notices will support tobacco retailers in implementing the new age of sale restrictions by helping to clarify and underline it for customers and staff. I therefore commend the clauses to the Committee.

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

I support the clause. For consistency and public acceptability, it is important that there is clear and consistent messaging to help the public understand the changes. It is already a requirement for premises to display notices to sell tobacco to under-18s, so I cannot see there being any issue in the implementation of the clause. Indeed, it is in the interests of retailers to have standardised notices across shops as we know that asking for ID is an issue that can cause customers to give shop workers grief at the till. When someone can say, “I am sorry, but it is the law and I could be fined or even have my ability to sell these products taken away,” that will greatly aid them in their job.

When customers can see that there is consistency across all retailers and that there is not the scope to twist anyone’s arm or get the impression that the issue is not taken seriously, we will see more people follow the rules. As we would expect, the responses to questions in the consultation were overwhelmingly supportive, with opposition mainly limited to arguments against the progressive rise in the age of sale.

Will the Minister comment on the consideration she has given to other forms of words, some of which she mentioned? Should the wording of the notice be limited to the focus on the age of sale and not, for example, proxy sales? Although one is the responsibility of the retailer and the other of the customer, would it not reinforce the understanding of the law and make people think twice about committing that offence? Will she set out the Government’s thinking on that? However, I support the clause.

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

The hon. Lady makes a fair point. The clarity of the single message is, on balance, considered to be more important. If it is absolutely clear that products may not be sold to anyone who meets the 1 January 2009 criterion, that clarity and simplicity makes the message more punchy.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 5 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 6 ordered to stand part of the Bill.