Windsor MP speaks out against Generational Tobacco Ban

Following the lively 2nd Reading Debate of the Tobacco and Vapes Bill 2024, Adam Afriyie said:  

“In 1982, about 13% of children were regular smokers. By 2021, this had fallen to just 1%. The extremely low, and falling, rates of smoking among our children demonstrate that the UK’s existing smoking-cessation policies are working. A new and radical policy is not needed.”  

“Bans do not work. And generational bans destroy the fundamental principle of equality before the law, creating a potentially endless slippery slope for the arbitrary erosion of other rights in the future.”  

“If we want to smoking rates continue to fall, we must recommit to our successful approach by boosting enforcement of the existing laws and get the message out to smokers that nicotine alternatives like vaping are far, far safer than smoking. and an and effective way to quit.”

On Tuesday 16th April, the MP for Windsor, Adam Afriyie, spoke during the Second Reading of the Tobacco and Vapes Bill 2024. In his remarks, he outlined the reasoning for his decision to vote against the legislation at this stage. The Bill was created to fulfil the Government’s ‘Smokefree 2030’ ambition, and introduces a generational ban on all tobacco products. From 2027, the minimum age of sale for tobacco will rise from 18 by one year, every year, indefinitely. The Tobacco and Vapes Bill 2024, will also grant Ministers future powers to regulate flavours and flavour descriptors, and marketing of the products.

In the Chamber, Mr Afriyie pointed to the significant success of the UK’s tobacco harm reduction strategy over the past few decades. Restrictions on access to cigarettes and other tobacco products, and the Government’s consumer-centric approach to vapes and other smoking cessation products, have resulted in dramatic reductions in smoking rates. But, he said, there are significant problems with the proposed generational tobacco ban, not least that history shows that prohibition simply does not work, and we have already seen similar legislation in other countries being abandoned or repealed.

Additionally, generational bans lead to the effective erosion of the legal threshold of adulthood by creating two classes of adult citizen: one with the legal right to make their own decision, and one without, based purely on the accident of their date of birth.  

Mr Afriyie expressed his support for most of the measures on vaping in the Bill - the powers to regulate labelling, flavour names, and marketing are important to tackle the problem of unscrupulous manufacturers targeting their vapes at children. But, he said, the Government must show caution in their approach to vape flavours themselves, which are a tool with the power to further reduce the number of adult smokers.

In his comments, Mr Afriyie called for the greater enforcement of current legislation and asked the Government to seize the opportunity presented by the willingness of the tobacco industry to contribute funding to Trading Standards for the enforcement of new and existing restrictions on vaping products, driving the cowboys out of the market.


Notes to Editors

Adam Afriyie is the Member of Parliament for Windsor. He is the Chair of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST), and a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Responsible Vaping.