Image: Flickr / Revival Vape

Smoking ban scrapped, as Westminster scrambles to election battle stations

Rishi Sunak’s smoking ban has been scrapped following the dissolution of Parliament, after a surprise general election was called for 4 July.

In April, MPs voted in support of a government proposal to raise the legal age of cigarette sales each year, meaning that people born in 2009 or after could never buy cigarettes legally.

However, the bill was yet to be debated in the House of Lords.

The day after Sunak called a July general election, Penny Mordaunt, the Leader of the Commons, did not include the smoking bill as part of legislation to be passed in the ‘wash-up’ period before parliament dissolves.

It meant that the bill would not be implemented before the election unless MPs chose to resuscitate it with an emergency statement before Friday afternoon – something that did not come to pass.

It will now depend on the next government to re-introduce the bill

When he announced the election on 22 May, Sunak promised to “ensure that the next generation grows up smoke-free”, while Labour has pledged to bring in the ban if it wins the election on 4 July.

It will now depend on the next government to re-introduce the bill.

The ‘wash-up’ period refers to the few days between the announcement of an election and the subsequent dissolution of Parliament, when the government can enact essential legislation that could not otherwise pass through Parliament because of dissolution.

This election’s ‘wash-up’ took place from 23–24 May. Bills that made it through the process, and that will therefore still become law, included legislation authorising payments to the victims of the infected blood scandal and the Post Office Horizon scandal, as well as the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill which will scrap leaseholds on new houses.

The Football Governance Bill, which would introduce an independent body to oversee clubs in England’s top five men’s tiers, was a casualty alongside the smoking bill, as well as the Renters (Reform) Bill, which intended to ban no-fault evictions.

As well as last-minute legislation, the final day of Parliament on Friday saw valedictory speeches from MPs stepping down at the election, including former Health Secretary Matt Hancock, and former PM Theresa May.

We are confident that, whoever forms the next government, this bill will return

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of ASH

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), said: “While the tobacco and vapes bill appears to be a victim of a snap election, all is not lost. This bill has the strong support of the chief medical officers of all four nations in the UK, as well as the overwhelming majority of the public.

“The powers contained in the bill are vital for the health and wellbeing of our children, as well as improving the productivity of our economy. We are confident that, whoever forms the next government, this bill will return and its passage will be expedited.”


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