County's MPs weighed in on the Government’s proposed smoking ban

By Joao Santos (Local Democracy Reporter)

17th Apr 2024 | Local News

Several Suffolk MPs have weighed in on the Government's smoking ban, which moved a step closer to becoming law after a vote in the commons this week.

Throughout Tuesday (16 April) afternoon, MPs from across the country met in the House of Commons to debate the Government's proposed bill to create a smoke-free generation.

The bill guarantees that those turning 15-years-old this year will never be able to be legally sold tobacco.

The measures, championed by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, survived despite opposition from several leading Tory figures.

Today marked the second reading of the smoking bill, and so the first time the whole House of Commons voted on it.

It will now be considered and potentially amended by MPs, before also going through scrutiny in the House of Lords.

Although the bill received cross-party support, it has also been under criticism from several Conservative and ReformUK MPs.

Ipswich MP, Tom Hunt, who voted against the proposals, explained the reasoning behind his decision in a Facebook post.

He said although he understood the risks of smoking, he did not welcome the restrictions given the rapid decrease in young people taking it up since the 1980s, with the potential for tobacco to become a black market good if the bill was passed.

Despite disagreeing with the bill, Mr Hunt stressed there could be smarter regulations around vaping.

Mr Hunt added: "I don't like smoking but I don't like banning things and if we are going to ban things and restrict people's individual freedoms, there needs to be a very compelling and powerful argument for it."

"We are living in a world where naturally young people are not picking up smoking, there's been a dramatic reduction, therefore in many senses, I don't think there's a necessity for this."

He also expressed concerns not only about what it could mean for things such as alcohol and sugar but also about how practical the bill would actually be.

Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP, Daniel Poulter, who is also a practising NHS consultant addiction psychiatrist, on the other hand, welcomed the proposals and disagreed with the comparison between smoking and alcohol.

Speaking in the Commons, he said: "Moderate alcohol and moderate bad eating are very different from moderate smoking because moderate smoking kills. It means that people live on average 10 years less and it means less healthy lives.

"This is not about libertarianism but about doing the right thing, protecting public health and protecting the next generation."

In Suffolk, the bill's second reading saw support from Jo Churchill, Daniel Poulter, James Cartlidge, and Peter Aldous, with only Tom Hunt voting against it.

Both Matt Hancock and Therese Coffey did not vote.


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