Clause 52 - Power to restrict nicotine products offence to sale by retail

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

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

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

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

This clause will allow the Department of Health in Northern Ireland to make regulations to define “sale” in section 1 of the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 to mean sale by retail. If the power is used, only sales from a retailer to a customer will be caught by the vape age of sale offence, and business-to-business sales—for example, sales between a wholesaler and a retailer—will not be included. I commend the clause to the Committee.

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

I thank the Minister for setting out the Government’s explanation of the clause, which we are happy to support. As she said, it aligns the definition of the sale of nicotine products with the definitions we discussed when we debated clause 34. The caveated phrase “sale by retail” means that business-to-business sales need not be impacted by restrictions on age of sale.

The Minister may have touched on this, but I would be grateful if she can explain why Northern Ireland is only being given powers to close loopholes on the free distribution of nicotine products and the sale of non-nicotine vapes, while the Bill will immediately close those loopholes for England and Wales. I note that a study from last year found that half of under-18s in Belfast who attempt to purchase vapes in shops are successful. As I have explained, such loopholes and regulations undermine an understanding of the law and weaken enforcement by trading standards bodies, which cannot use the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s notification publication as a definitive guide to which products are legal. Has the Minister received a commitment from Stormont on introducing such regulations? If so, what is the timeline for doing so?

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

I can explore that further, but the hon. Lady will appreciate that the Stormont Assembly was re-established very late on—in fact, after First Reading if I recall rightly, or at least the decision for the Bill to be UK-wide came after First Reading. At speed, the Bill was amended to incorporate Northern Ireland, and there may well be further amendments relating to Northern Ireland. The hon. Lady makes a good point, and with your leave, Sir Gary, I will write to her.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 52 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.