Rishi Sunak Disappointed Smoking Ban Will Not Become Law Before General Election

Rishi Sunak Disappointed Smoking Ban Will Not Become Law Before General Election

Riddhi Doshi 24/05/2024
Rishi Sunak Disappointed Smoking Ban Will Not Become Law Before General Election

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak expressed disappointment that his bill aimed at banning young people from ever legally smoking will not pass.

The bill's failure to advance will occur before the upcoming general election. The Tobacco and Vapes Bill, which would make selling tobacco to anyone born after January 1, 2009, illegal, is not among the legislation being expedited by MPs ahead of Parliament’s closure on Friday.

Sunak emphasized the boldness of the proposed legislation, stating, "This bill is evidence of the bold action I am prepared to take. That's the type of prime minister I am, and that's the type of leadership I bring. I stepped up to do something bold that will make an enormous difference in the future of our country."

However, the bill faced resistance and will not be rushed through in the limited time remaining. Labour's shadow health secretary, Wes Streeting, criticized Sunak’s leadership, saying, "If Rishi Sunak's idea of bold leadership is to crumble before his party and surrender his landmark smoking bill, it's no wonder the country is in such a mess." Streeting affirmed Labour's commitment to the policy, vowing to make sure that young people today are even less likely to smoke than they are to vote Conservative.

Speaking to reporters on a flight from Belfast, Sunak did not guarantee that the ban would feature in the Conservative manifesto but reiterated his commitment to the issue. "There's always a normal process at the end of a Parliament to see which legislation you can pass in the time that's available," he explained. "I am, of course, disappointed not to be able to get that through at the end of the session given the time available."

The bill’s failure is controversial within Conservative ranks, with some members seeing it as an infringement on personal choice. Nonetheless, Sunak announced the election at Downing Street on Wednesday, promising to "ensure that the next generation grows up smoke-free."

The Renters Reform Bill, another significant piece of legislation, will also fall by the wayside. This bill aimed to end no-fault evictions in England and had been included in the Conservatives' 2019 election manifesto. Labour's shadow housing minister, Matthew Pennycook, condemned the decision to abandon the bill, stating, "The Tories' decision to cave in to vested interests and abandon their already weakened Renters Reform Bill leaves in tatters the promises they made to private tenants five years ago."

Despite these setbacks, Sunak highlighted the government's achievements, including the passing of legislation to quash the convictions of hundreds of sub-postmasters caught up in the Post Office Horizon scandal. The Post Office (Horizon System) Offences Bill will receive royal assent on Parliament's final sitting day ahead of the election on July 4, a period known in Westminster as "wash-up." This period involves intensive negotiations between government and opposition whips to determine which bills can be passed in the remaining time.

Additionally, the government has promised to schedule a bill enabling compensation to be paid to the victims of the contaminated blood scandal. Sunak expressed satisfaction with the progress on these fronts, stating, "I'm pleased that yesterday we got the Horizon Bill through to make sure that we can deliver compensation and justice to the postmasters who were so badly impacted by what I described as one of the worst miscarriages of justice that we've ever known. Today we'll be debating the bills that will ensure that the compensation authority for those impacted by the infected blood scandal gets the justice they deserve. So, we are making progress."

In other news, Sunak addressed the government's deportation scheme to Rwanda. He stated that no asylum seekers would be sent to Rwanda before the election, but flights would take off "if I'm re-elected." Labour has pledged to scrap the plan if it wins power, describing it as a "con from start to finish."

The prime minister's efforts to push through his legislative agenda have been met with significant challenges, and the upcoming general election adds further uncertainty. As Parliament prepares to shut down, Sunak's vision for a smoke-free generation and reform in the rental market remains unfulfilled. However, the government's progress on issues like the Horizon scandal and the infected blood scandal compensation demonstrates its commitment to addressing historical injustices.

The political landscape is set to intensify as the election approaches, with parties gearing up to present their manifestos and policies to the electorate. Sunak's leadership will be scrutinized, particularly on his ability to deliver bold reforms and navigate the complex dynamics within his party and the broader political environment. As the campaign trail heats up, the prime minister's resolve and strategic decisions will play a crucial role in shaping the future direction of his party and the country.


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Riddhi Doshi

Mental Health Expert

Riddhi Doshi trains and coaches corporate leaders, educators and parents on issues of mental health and behavior. She is an internationally certified Parenting & Behaviour Coach. In past 15+ years she has conducted 2540+ open workshops, delivered 87000+ hours of talks, 53000+ hours of counseling sessions covering 59000+ students and 62,000+ women from various fields. Parenting sessions conducted by Riddhi are housefull and recent;y she completed her 366th Parenting session. She has been a speaker and advisor at various institutions and organizations including IIM, Ahmedabad, Rotary Club, Tata Power, Larson & Toubro and The Time of India. She holds an MBA in HRD, LLM and numerous other professional certifications from prestigious international institutions including University of Cambridge, BSY University, London, City & Guilds, London, Tata Institute of Social Sciences and NMIMS, Mumbai. She has been awarded with “National Award for Cultural Activities by AVANTIKA- Delhi”, “Excellence in Wellness”, “Young Entrepreneurs Award”, “Self Made Diva Award” among various others. With a mission to “make corporate leaders, educators and parents empowered and more aware about mental health & wellness”, Riddhi regularly gives interviews on leading media platforms. She loves to interact with corporate leaders, educators and parents to discuss about women issues, child psychology and parenting challenges.

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