Clause 39 - Repeal of offence of purchasing tobacco products by under 18s

Part of Tobacco and Vapes Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 9:45 am ar 14 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Preet Kaur Gill Preet Kaur Gill Shadow Minister (Primary Care and Public Health) 9:45, 14 Mai 2024

I turn to part 2 of the Bill and some of the clauses that apply specifically to Scotland. As the Minister mentioned, Scotland has a proud history of leading on many tobacco control methods, including beating the rest of the UK in introducing regulations to prohibit smoking in enclosed public spaces in 2005. That was the crowning achievement of a proud public health legacy left by the last Labour Governments in Westminster and in Holyrood. I am pleased to see the constructive attitude taken by the Scottish Government to the Bill to avoid any unnecessary regulatory divergence and to offer more certainty for business and consistency for consumers.

Clause 39, as the Minister has said, relates to the repeal of section 5 of the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services (Scotland) Act 2010, which made it an offence for someone under the age of 18 to buy or attempt to buy a tobacco product or cigarette papers. As I mentioned in the first sitting, the correct approach is to focus the enforcement of the law on the retailer, not the purchaser. Established businesses should be expected to take a greater degree of responsibility than children, and the law should reflect that. It should be our priority to help children addicted to nicotine, rather than penalise them.

Moreover, I take the Minister’s point that this change will make the law easier to interpret and enforce. Where possible, we do not want to diffuse responsibilities between retailers and customers, or indeed the enforcement authorities that attend to them. I am satisfied that if we have strong and consistent enforcement of the responsibility of retailers to implement age of sale law, that would achieve the same outcomes that the 2010 Act intended.