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Press Release

Leading Health organisations urge Parliament to put the Tobacco and Vapes Bill on the statute book before the general election

20 Mar 2024

The Tobacco and Vapes Bill, which was today laid before the House of Commons, raises the age of sale for all tobacco products one year every year from 2027 onwards. This means that tobacco can never be legally sold to anyone born on or after 1st January 2009. Analysis for Action on Smoking Health (ASH) by UCL researchers suggests that approximately 127,500 young adults aged between 18 and 25 start smoking regularly each year in the UK.[1]

Leading health organisations including medical royal colleges and health charities welcome the legislation and urge Parliament to put it on the statute book before the general election. To back up their call to action, they have provided parliamentarians with a detailed document rebutting tobacco industry arguments against the legislation. [2]

Professor Nick Hopkinson, Respiratory Physician and Chair of ASH said,

Smoking is uniquely lethal and incredibly addictive. The Tobacco and Vapes Bill is an opportunity to introduce world-leading legislation that will create a smokefree generation and end the premature death and disability caused by smoking.

Two thirds (66%) of adults in Great Britain already support the legislation with only 14% opposed. Requiring those purchasing tobacco to provide ID with proof of age, is supported by 66% of adults in Britain, with only 14% opposing. The highest level of support (72%) was among those intending to vote Conservative at the next general election, compared to 70% of Labour voters and 68% of Lib Dem voters. [3]

Dr Camilla Kingdon, President of Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said:

“The introduction of the Tobacco and Vapes Bill is a significant day for children’s health. As paediatricians, reducing harm to children and young people lies at the core of our work. Smoking remains the single biggest cause of preventable illness and disease in the UK. Stopping children and young people from starting to smoke will decrease their chance of developing preventable disease later in life. I strongly urge MPs to use the important responsibility they have and support this Bill to protect children’s and our nation’s health.”

Sarah Woolnough, Chief Executive, The King’s Fund said:

“This is exactly the sort of bold measure needed to improve the health of the nation, reduce pressure on the NHS and enable people to lead happier, healthier, more productive lives. Implementing the ban would be a crucial step forward in preventing burgeoning poor health in this country, saving lives and reducing health inequalities. I hope parliamentarians have the will to pass this potentially game-changing legislation.”

Greg Fell, President of the Association of Directors of Public Health, said:

“We know that most smokers start young, regret ever starting and then, because they have become addicted, struggle to quit. This then leads to untold harms, disease and death, and costs society billions of pounds every year through healthcare, lost productivity, and social care costs.

“Our parliamentarians have a unique opportunity to break this cycle once and for all and by protecting our children from ever becoming addicted to this lethal product, can save countless lives, improve everyone’s health and wellbeing and make the country a more productive, profitable place to live.”

Mark Rowland, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said:

“Smoking harms disproportionally affect those with poor mental health and stopping smoking has been shown to be as effective as anti-depressants. The Tobacco and Vapes Bill is a once in a generation opportunity to prevent the known mental and physical harms that smoking causes and regulate commercial interests from undermining the health of future generations.”

Colette Marshall, Chief Executive at Diabetes UK, said:

“If you're a smoker and have diabetes, quitting smoking is one of the most positive things you can do to both improve your health and reduce your risks of the long-term complications of diabetes. Smoking is also linked with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

“We hope plans to phase out the sale of cigarettes will be passed into law without delay across the UK.”

Professor Kevin Fenton, President of the UK Faculty of Public Health, said:

"This legislation will prevent thousands of early deaths and lives made miserable by disease, for our children’s generation and into the future. It will take pressure off the NHS and social care while strengthening the UK’s workforce. Support for this bill demonstrates vision, commitment and leadership to improve the public’s health and tackle health inequalities."

William Roberts, CEO, Royal Society of Public Health, said:

“Smoking continues to cut lives short killing up to two in three long-term users and placing significant strain on an already overstretched health and social care system. Protecting future generations from the dangers of tobacco is vital if we want to build a healthier future. It is vital that this Bill passes and MPs of all political stripes put prevention at the heart of public policy when it comes to protecting our health."

Ailsa Rutter, OBE, Director of Fresh and Balance, said:

“There is huge public support for the smokefree generation which will end the terrible toll tobacco takes on our communities. Like too many families, I lost my dad Stewart to smoking when he was just 61 from COPD. He was a fisherman and county golf champion and he should have been enjoying his life, his family and his grandchildren rather than struggling for breath. We miss him every day.

“The next few months will give our parliamentarians one of the biggest chances they will ever have to prevent our biggest cause of cancer, stop the start of young smokers and create a better life free of addiction for our children. In doing so this will be a significant moment to help transform the nation’s health and ease a massive pressure on our NHS and economy.”

The legislation has the full support of the Prime Minister, and as action to end smoking is not considered a party political issue, Conservative MPs will have a free vote, and Labour has already signalled that they strongly support the regulation as does the backbench All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health in both houses of Parliament.

Raising the age of sale from 2027 will come into force once the Bill is passed as will new fixed penalty fines of £100 for selling cigarettes or vapes to children.

Leading health organisations also strongly support measures contained in the Bill to curb the appeal of vaping among teens. This includes powers to restrict vape flavours, introduce plain packaging and change how vapes are displayed in shops so that they don’t appeal to children, with the detail to be set out in secondary legislation (statutory instruments).


Notes to the Editor

Action on Smoking and Health is a health charity working to eliminate the harm caused by tobacco use. ASH receives funding for its programme of work from Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation.

Hazel Cheeseman Deputy Chief Executive, Professor Nick Hopkinson, Professor of respiratory medicine at Imperial College London and Chair of ASH and Deborah Arnott, chief executive, are available for media interviews contact


[1] Analysis by UCL available on the Open Science Framework at:

[2] Brief for Parliamentarians: Creating a smokefree generation endorsed by a wide range of medical royal colleges, health charities, and public health organisations.

[3] Survey carried out online by YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 4,107 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 15th - 17th November 2023. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). Question asked was: “The Government has announced legislation to raise the age of sale for tobacco for those born in 2009 or later by one year, every year, so it will never be legal to sell them tobacco. To what extent, if at all, would you support or oppose this measure?”