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Tobacco and Vapes Bill will ‘improve the health of the nation’

The government has introduced its Tobacco and Vapes Bill which will prevent children turning 15 this year from ever being able to legally buy tobacco.

The government has introduced its Tobacco and Vapes Bill which will prevent children turning 15 this year from ever being able to legally buy tobacco.

Smoking is one of the most significant and preventable drivers of disparities in health outcomes, and the government says the Tobacco and Vapes Bill will create a ‘smokefree generation’, saving thousands of lives and saving the NHS billions of pounds.

The new law takes a phased approach, meaning anyone who can legally buy tobacco now will not be prevented from doing so in the future. However, all children born on or after 1 January 2009 will never legally be able to be sold tobacco.

The NHS Confederation said the Bill will “improve the health of the nation” and “create a more sustained NHS”.

Bill introduces crack down on vaping

In response to the significant rise in children using vapes, the bill will also bring in new laws which restrict vape flavours and packaging, with all vapes moved out of sight and away from products that appeal to them, like sweets.

While smoking e-cigarettes is generally thought to be safer than smoking, the long-term health impacts of vaping are unknown. However, more studies comparing vaping to smoking are being conducted.

For example, one study published in Cancer Research this week, shows that E-cigarette users with a limited smoking history experience similar DNA changes to specific cheek cells as smokers.

First author, Dr Chiara Herzog said: “We cannot say that e-cigarettes cause cancer based on our study, but we do observe e-cigarette users exhibit some similar epigenetic changes in buccal cells as smokers, and these changes are associated with future lung cancer development in smokers.”

As this new evidence emerges, the government says it is important to discourage children from ever vaping, while allowing vapes and e-cigarettes to be accessible to smokers trying to quit.

MPs urged to support the Tobacco and Vapes Bill

Cancer Research UK has welcomed the Bill, and Dr Ian Walker, executive director of policy at CRUK, says the legislation positions the UK as a “world leader in tackling smoking”.

“Raising the age of sale of tobacco products has strong public backing and is the boldest prevention measure in years.

“Nothing would have a bigger impact on reducing the number of preventable deaths in the UK than ending smoking. We urge all MPs to vote in favour of this bill, and for it to be passed as quickly as possible,” he said.

The King’s Fund says the Bill has “widespread backing” from health and care organisations, as well as from the majority of adults in England.

“Implementing the ban would be a crucial step forward in preventing burgeoning poor health in this country, saving lives and reducing health inequalities,” said Sarah Woolnough, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund.

“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. I hope parliamentarians have the will to pass this potentially game-changing legislation,” she added.

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