Local authority leaders have welcomed the PM’s ambition to eliminate smoking but have also called for ‘clarity’ on how new restrictions on the sale of cigarettes will be enforced.
In his speech today at the Conservative conference, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced a ‘historic new law’ to stop children who turn 14 this year or younger from being sold cigarettes in England.
The change in the law could phase out smoking in young people almost completely by 2040 and could reduce the £17bn-a-year bill that smoking costs the economy.
‘I want to build a better and brighter future for our children, so that’s why I want to stamp out smoking for good,’ said the Prime Minister.
‘These changes will mean our kids will never be able to buy a cigarette, preventing them getting hooked and protecting their health both now and in the future.’
Mr Sunak also announced the Government’s intention to consult on plans to reduce the appeal and availability of vapes to children by – for example – restricting the flavours available.
Cllr David Fothergill, chairman of the Local Government Association’s (LGA) Community Wellbeing Board, welcomed the PM’s announcement but questioned how the smoking ban would be enforced.
‘It is important that clarity is provided on how restrictions on the age of sale can be enforced and councils get the funding they need to successfully implement this policy,’ he said.
‘There should also be sufficient lead-in time, and guidance provided ahead of the legislation coming into force so that councils, retailers and others understand their new obligations and can prepare accordingly.’
Cllr Fothergill also said he was ‘pleased’ the Government had listened to the concerns of local authorities when it came to the growing popularity of vaping with young people but added that an ‘outright ban remains the most effective solution to this problem.’
The Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH) also welcomed the Prime Minister’s proposals.
Alice Wiseman, ADPH policy lead for Addiction, said: 'We can’t do it by words alone. In order for these, and any other regulations, to be implemented effectively there must be a sustained increase in funding.
'DsPH work incredibly hard with partners in their local communities to reduce the number of people taking up smoking and to provide support for people who want to stop. At the moment our efforts are simply not supported by adequate funding and so while we welcome the promise of increased investment, it needs to translate to a real terms increase.'