Back when Rishi Sunak was trying to pitch himself as the change candidate, he used his party conference speech in October to announce three big policies: the scrapping of HS2, a ‘new Baccalaureate-style qualification’ to replace A-levels and a plan to create the first smoke free generation. The latter idea was inspired by a similar policy introduced in New Zealand by the Labour party that has since been scrapped after the conservative National party triumphed in the recent election. Despite this, Sunak plans to press on and today on a visit to a school will announce further measures to ‘protect children’s health’ when it comes to vapes.
The government plans to ban disposable vapes for everyone, following a consultation looking at the number of children taking up vaping. Recent figures suggest that the number of children using vapes over the past three years has tripled, with 9 per cent of 11 to 15 year-olds now using vapes. As well as banning disposable vapes (which are seen as the most appealing to children), the government wants new powers to restrict certain flavours, such as ‘pink lemonade’, and to introduce plain packaging to reduce their appeal.
With this announcement, Sunak is also recommitting to his initial pledge of a new law that will make it illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone born on or after 1 January 2009. This is despite calls by Tory MPs for Sunak to think again. They are arguing that it constitutes a new type of illiberalism to make it so that someone born on 1 January 2009 can never buy a cigarette, even at the age of 80, when a sibling older by just one year could smoke as much as they liked into old age.