Clause 24 - Fixed penalty notices

Part of Tobacco and Vapes Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 3:15 pm ar 9 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care 3:15, 9 Mai 2024

The hon. Lady makes a good point. Of course, most of us do not carry £100 in cash, because we do not need to these days. My point was more that if the fine is £200, an individual might say, “Well, you’ll have to take me to court over it.” That creates a huge administrative burden that will slow down justice.

I will turn to the other clauses, because I think that will help in this debate. Clauses 24 to 26 relate to fixed penalty notices in England and Wales. Clause 24 introduces fixed penalty notices for the under-age sale of tobacco and vaping products and for the free distribution of vaping products to under-18s in England and Wales. The current penalty regime requires trading standards to prosecute an individual or business, and they must be convicted in a magistrates court. The new fixed penalty notices will allow trading standards to take swifter action by issuing on-the-spot fines to retailers, instead of escalating to a court process. Fixed penalty notices are already in place in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Fixed penalty notices offer an individual the opportunity to avoid prosecution for an offence if they make a payment within a specified period. They are already in place for proxy purchases of tobacco and vape products. A strong approach to enforcement is vital to ensure the smoke-free generation policy, and that our approach to tackling youth vaping has real impact. Fixed penalty notices will complement the existing sanctions and strengthen the toolkit available to trading standards officers, allowing them to take swifter action to fine those selling to anyone under the age of sale.