Smoke-Free (Private Vehicles) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021

Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 12:30 pm on 6 December 2021.

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Photo of Patsy McGlone Patsy McGlone Social Democratic and Labour Party 12:30, 6 December 2021

The next items of business are motions to approve three statutory rules, all of which relate to nicotine and tobacco. There will be a single debate on all three motions. I will call on the Minister of Health to move the first motion. The Minister will commence the debate on the motions as listed in the Order Paper. When all who wish to speak have done so, I will put the Question on the first motion. The second motion will then be read into the record, and I will call the Minister to move it. The Question will then be put on that motion, and that process will be repeated for the third motion. If that is clear, we will proceed.

Photo of Robin Swann Robin Swann UUP

I beg to move

That the draft Smoke-Free (Private Vehicles) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021 be approved.

The following motions stood in the Order Paper:

That the draft Nicotine Inhaling Products (Age of Sale and Proxy Purchasing) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021 be approved. — [Mr Swann (The Minister of Health).]

That the draft Tobacco Retailer (Fixed Penalty) (Amount) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021 be approved. — [Mr Swann (The Minister of Health).]

Photo of Patsy McGlone Patsy McGlone Social Democratic and Labour Party

Thank you, Minister. The Business Committee has agreed that there should be no time limit on the debate.

Photo of Robin Swann Robin Swann UUP

Thank you very much, Mr Deputy Speaker. I seek the Assembly's approval for the three sets of regulations, which seek to protect children from nicotine addiction and the harms of second-hand smoke.

The Smoke-Free (Private Vehicles) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021 will ban smoking in enclosed private vehicles where a child under the age of 18 is present. Protecting the population from exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke is a key objective in the Department's tobacco control strategy. Second-hand smoke is a combination of mainstream smoke exhaled by smokers and side-stream smoke, which is given off by the burning end of a cigarette or cigar or by a pipe. The long-term effects of regular exposure to second-hand smoke include a higher risk of lung cancer, coronary heart disease, chronic respiratory symptoms and asthma. Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of second-hand smoke as they breathe more rapidly and inhale more pollutants per pound of body weight than adults. In 2010, a report by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) affirmed that children exposed to second-hand smoke had an increased risk of asthma, lower respiratory tract infections, bronchitis, middle ear disease, bacterial meningitis and sudden infant death syndrome as well as general reduced respiratory function. It is also important to remember that children are likely to have less control than adults over how they travel and whom they travel with.

The Smoking (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 provides the legislative framework for existing smoke-free public places and workplaces. From its date of commencement in April 2007, it has been an offence to smoke in all indoor public places and workplaces. Smoking in shared work vehicles, including all forms of public transport, is also banned under the Order. The Smoking (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 contains two offences, which have been enforced, in relation to public and work vehicles, and they came into effect in 2007. They are smoking in a smoke-free vehicle and failing to prevent smoking in a smoke-free vehicle. The draft regulations will have the effect of extending those offences to include a private vehicle when a person under the age of 18 is present.

The draft Smoke-Free (Private Vehicles) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021 provide that a vehicle is smoke-free if it is enclosed, there is more than one person present and there is a person under the age of 18 in the vehicle. In Northern Ireland, the enforcement of tobacco control legislation is the sole responsibility of district councils. That includes the enforcement of the legislation on smoke-free work vehicles. However, the regulations propose that a dual enforcement approach between district councils and the Police Service of Northern Ireland is adopted in relation to all smoke-free vehicles. Under existing powers, PSNI officers are able to request that a vehicle stop if they suspect that an offence is being committed, which would facilitate the enforcement of the legislation. While those powers are not available to district council officers, they will be able to take action if they observe an offence in a parked vehicle or if they are able to obtain licence details from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

Decisions about whether to issue warnings or fixed penalty notices or to refer an alleged offence straight to the court to be dealt with will be at the discretion of the enforcement agency. It is proposed that the penalty for both offences — smoking in a private smoke-free vehicle and failing to prevent smoking in a private smoke-free vehicle — will be £50. That mirrors the existing penalty for smoking in a smoke-free public place, a workplace or a vehicle. On conviction for the offence of smoking in a smoke-free private vehicle, a court can award a fine up to a maximum level 3 on the standard scale, which is £1,000. For failure to prevent smoking in a smoke-free private vehicle, a court can award a fine of a maximum level 4 on the standard scale, which is £2,500.

A summary of the consultation on the proposals was published in July 2018. Respondents were largely in favour of the proposed ban. Only three respondents did not support the proposed measures: all three were from the tobacco industry.

At its meeting on 7 October 2021, the Health Committee agreed that it was content for my Department to make the proposed regulations, and draft regulations were subsequently approved by the Committee on 25 November. I thank the Committee for its work on that. It is with the Committee's support and Executive agreement that I bring the draft regulations before you today. Subject to Assembly approval, a period of publicity and awareness raising will take place, and the regulations will become effective from 1 February 2022.

I also seek the Assembly's approval for the Nicotine Inhaling Products (Age of Sale and Proxy Purchasing) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021 and the Tobacco Retailer (Fixed Penalty) (Amount) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021, which together will introduce a minimum age of sale of 18 years for nicotine-inhaling products, commonly known as "electronic cigarettes" or "vapes", and certain related parts of such devices to protect children from the risk and associated harms of nicotine addiction. Furthermore, the regulation makes it an offence for an adult to purchase or attempt to purchase a nicotine-inhaling product on behalf of a child. The provisions mirror existing arrangements to prevent the sale of tobacco products to and their use by young people under the age of 18.

The Tobacco Retailer (Fixed Penalty) (Amount) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021 will replace the schedule to the Tobacco Retailer (Fixed Penalty) (Amount) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2016, and that will allow for the inclusion of the amounts of fixed penalties for offences relating to the sale of proxy purchases of nicotine-containing products.

Since the introduction of smoke-free legislation in Northern Ireland in April 2007, the market for nicotine-inhaling products has grown exponentially. The most common form of nicotine-inhaling products are e-cigarettes. Those products are completely tobacco-free and are made up of nicotine-based liquid that is then vaporised and inhaled. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance, and there are no legal restrictions on the sale of those products to children in Northern Ireland. While research has shown nicotine-inhaling products to be considerably less harmful than tobacco, the long-term effects of e-cigarette use are largely unknown. A 2014 report by the World Health Organization expressed particular concern about the potential for adolescent nicotine exposure to have long-term consequences for brain development. The report goes on to say that e-cigarette use "poses serious threats to adolescents" and recommends that retailers should be prohibited from selling e-cigarettes to minors. Furthermore, while some evidence suggests that e-cigarette use among children is largely restricted to those who have already experimented with tobacco, my Department is keen to ensure that it does not act as a gateway into smoking. The evidence of a potential gateway effect is mixed, but I believe that it is right to be cautious. The Department has made considerable inroads into reducing smoking prevalence among 11-to-16-year-olds from 9% in 2007 to 4% in 2016 and 2019 and does not wish to see that trend reversed as a result of young people having easy access to e-cigarette products.

In summary, the regulations make it an offence to sell nicotine-inhaling products, commonly known as "electronic cigarettes" or "vapes", and certain related parts of such devices to under-18s and for an adult to purchase or attempt to purchase a nicotine-inhaling product on behalf of a child.

An exception is made for products that are licensed by the UK-wide Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Those products will be made available to children only on prescription or if the product's medicine marketing authorisations provide that it is licensed for use by under-18s. At present, however, no such products are licensed.

The new legislation will be enforced by the environmental health staff of the district councils. It is not anticipated that further funding will be required beyond that which is already provided through the Public Health Agency (PHA) in Northern Ireland for the enforcement of tobacco control legislation. Enforcement authorities will have the option of issuing fixed penalty notices for either offence in relation to the sale of nicotine-inhaling products. It is proposed that the penalty amount for both offences — selling nicotine-inhaling products to a person under the age of 18 and the offence of proxy purchasing — will be £250. That mirrors existing penalties for tobacco sales offences. A retailer convicted of selling a nicotine-inhaling product to a person under the age of 18 or an adult convicted of a proxy purchasing offence will be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, which is currently up to £5,000. That level of fine is consistent with the corresponding tobacco age of sale offence.

In addition, restricted sales orders and restricted premises orders, which came into force in Northern Ireland in 2016, will be extended to include offences in relation to underage sales of nicotine-inhaling products. Such an order, if granted by the court, can prohibit a named individual or named premises from selling both tobacco and nicotine-inhaling products for up to three years.

While the Department consulted on the provisions relating to nicotine products in the draft Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill in the autumn of 2014, I gave a commitment that a further consultation would be carried out on the draft regulations that would also provide the public with an opportunity to comment on a draft regulatory impact assessment. That additional consultation ran from 4 September to 27 October 2017, and a total of 28 responses were received from a variety of stakeholders, including local government, the voluntary and community sector, professional bodies and tobacco and e-cigarette manufacturers. The majority of respondents supported the policy aim of restricting the sale of nicotine-inhaling products to persons over the age of 18 and agreed with the proposals as set out in the draft regulations. That support came from across the board and included representation from all sectors. The vast majority of respondents agreed that an offence of proxy purchasing e-cigarettes should be created, bringing those products into line with other age-restricted products such as tobacco and alcohol. Furthermore, the Health Committee, at its meeting on 7 October 2021, agreed that it was content for my Department to make the proposed regulations, and draft regulations were subsequently approved by the Committee on 25 November.

It is with the Committee's support and Executive agreement that I bring the draft regulations before the House today. The regulations are subject to affirmative resolution. After they have been made, a period of awareness raising with retailers and the public will follow, and the regulations will become effective from 1 February 2022. This package of regulatory changes aims to protect the most vulnerable, and I commend the motions to the House.

Photo of Colm Gildernew Colm Gildernew Sinn Féin 12:45, 6 December 2021

I will make some brief remarks as Chair. I will then make some additional, even briefer remarks as the party's health spokesman.

The Committee was briefed on this set of rules when it received the SL1s on 7 October. Officials outlined the purpose of the rules and answered questions from members. Committee members sought clarification of a number of issues.

Members raised the issue of the time that it has taken to introduce the regulations, given that they were first discussed in 2014 and the primary legislation was passed in 2016. Officials advised that a consultation took place between January and March 2017, during which time the Assembly went down. Further delays were caused by the pandemic and the involvement of officials in Brexit preparations. Therefore, the regulations could not be progressed until now.

The main focus of the discussions on smoke-free vehicles was enforcement and the fact that the PSNI and councils would be classed as enforcement agencies in the regulations. Officials advised that the key difference between the enforcement powers of the PSNI and the councils is that the PSNI has the power to stop vehicles. Members also sought clarity on who is liable for smoking in cars. We were advised that the driver of the car is always responsible for the offence of failing to prevent smoking in a smoke-free vehicle and that it would be an additional offence where the person smoking is also liable.

There was a discussion about the number of children who would benefit from the rules being in place. Officials advised that, following implementation in England, there was a 72% reduction in self-reported exposure to second-hand smoke. Officials indicated that compliance with the regulations could decrease the number of children exposed to smoking by 20%.

There was a further discussion about the possibility of extending the ban to include the use of e-cigarettes in vehicles. The Committee was advised that there was no power in primary legislation to allow the Department to do that. In follow-up correspondence, the Department advised that it would look at further evidence on the issue in the coming years, when further research had been completed. The Committee also sought some clarification on the rules applying to motorhomes and caravans when they are not stationary.

Members raised the issue of e-cigarettes and vaping being a gateway to tobacco products for younger people. There was a discussion about the information being gathered on young people's usage of e-cigarettes. Officials advised that the most recent young persons' behaviour and attitudes survey, from 2019, showed that 3% of under-16s, some of whom were as young as 11 years old, said that they used e-cigarettes regularly. That is a worrying trend, and I hope that the rules, along with education in schools, will better inform young people of the risks of tobacco products.

There was also a discussion about the lack of evidence on the long-term safety of e-cigarettes and the sometimes conflicting messaging on their use in smoking cessation services. The Committee asks that, as data is collected over the coming years, the Department consider the evidence and bring forward guidance and regulations as required on the basis of that evidence. The Committee agreed to recommend that the regulations be approved by the Assembly.

In my role as Sinn Féin health spokesperson, I indicate that Sinn Féin fully supports the measures to reduce exposure to second-hand cigarette smoke and to prevent young people from inappropriately accessing tobacco products. I welcome the Minister's indication that e-cigarette products will be monitored on an ongoing basis and that, should the evidence become clear, action will be taken.

As the Minister said, where the evidence is mixed, we should err on the side of caution, because we do not get a second chance to act quickly on such matters and on public health matters generally. It is the case that we live in an age of disinformation, but we do not want to see a repeat of the situation in which commercial interests, for many years and even decades, controlled the flow of evidence and information in a way that allowed harmful products to continue to be sold. I welcome the Minister's commitment on that.

I also welcome the reference to a communications strategy. Again, it is particularly relevant to this issue and to public health measures generally. Social and community cohesion, buy-in and understanding of such measures are crucial. The best barometer of the public messaging campaign, as well as the best monitoring and enforcement measure that we can have, is community agreement that certain things are necessary or beneficial and that society largely supports the measures being taken and responds in that way.

Photo of Pam Cameron Pam Cameron DUP

I support all three motions: that on the draft Smoke-Free (Private Vehicles) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021; that on the draft Nicotine Inhaling Products (Age of Sale and Proxy Purchasing) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021; and that on the draft Tobacco Retailer (Fixed Penalty) (Amount) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021. Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK and Ireland where it is still legal to expose people under the age of 18 to the dangers of second-hand smoke while in an enclosed vehicle, which in itself is enough reason to support the motions before the House. It is not acceptable, and the children of Northern Ireland deserve much greater health protection. It is disappointing that the provision is being enacted only now, despite there having been plans to do so as far back as 2014.

I welcome the fact that the proposed new regulations will extend the current smoke-free provisions to private vehicles where children are present, there is more than one person in the car and the vehicle is enclosed. Also, I welcome that it is proposed that failing to prevent smoking in a smoke-free private vehicle will be made an offence. Giving power to councils and to the PSNI to enforce the laws is a sensible move.

We will, of course, be aware of reports such as those from clinicians. For example, a report from the Royal College of Physicians says that smoking in a vehicle can lead to increased risk of asthma, lower respiratory tract infections, middle ear disease, bronchitis, bacterial meningitis, sudden infant death syndrome and reduced respiratory function.

Whilst it may feel like common sense to include e-cigarettes in the draft Smoke-Free (Private Vehicles) Regulations before us, we have to respect, at this point, that the evidence base for the second-hand effects of e-cigarettes and vaping is less conclusive. That is why the legislation will not include e-cigs and vaping at this time. Perhaps the Minister will advise us on whether he expects to have more evidence in the near future on that subject. Will he confirm that, should that evidence base be there in the coming months and years, he will swiftly move to add e-cigs and vaping to the legislation?

Without doubt, the planned regulations will play an important role in protecting children from the harms of nicotine and tobacco use. Proposals to prevent the sale of nicotine-inhaling products such as e-cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18 will be made under the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act (NI) 2016. That is welcome. Today, we heard during Members' statements about the barbaric abuse of children, and I would argue that forcing a child, especially a small child, to inhale harmful substances is a form of abuse.

The provisions mirror existing arrangements already in place to prevent the sale and use of tobacco products by young people. They are a sensible move forward and recognition of the harm that e-cigarettes can cause to children. Again, we see Northern Ireland playing catch-up, as England and Wales moved on this in 2015 and Scotland in 2017.

The third of the regulations today relates to allowing fixed penalties for the new offences in relation to the sale or proxy purchase of nicotine-containing products to those aged under 18 years. That is another welcome and appropriate move. There will be some who see legislation such as this as unnecessary, but it is incumbent on the House to ensure that there is no doubt about the harm that nicotine causes for all of us as human beings and more so to a child forced to inhale second-hand smoke in a small, enclosed area such as a car. It is important that we recognise that the worth of such legislative changes is not how many will or can be prosecuted; it is about positively affecting our behaviour, given the knowledge that we now have. It is about increased awareness of the danger, and it is about making smoking in cars with children socially unacceptable. Again, I very much welcome the legislation, and I look forward to it becoming law in 2022.

Photo of Colin McGrath Colin McGrath Social Democratic and Labour Party

I welcome the opportunity to speak today on the statutory regulations. They are timely and appropriate, and we in the SDLP think that they are adequate. If we have learnt anything in the past 18 months, it is that, when it comes to our health and well-being, prevention is critical. For example, we have all heard the stories of those who have ended up in hospital as a result of COVID, have felt its worst effects and then, on leaving hospital, have said that they would not wish that experience on anyone else. That is to say nothing of those who have ended up in hospital as a result of not having been vaccinated and then have come out the other side, thanks to the interventions of our incredible health staff, and said that they wished that they had been vaccinated. The statutory regulations offer us the opportunity to provide positive, preventive measures to ensure better health outcomes for our population and to prevent additional pressures being placed on our health service.

As has already been outlined, the three regulations are to ban smoking in private vehicles while someone under the age of 18 is present, to ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to those under the age of 18 and to establish fixed penalties, should someone be in breach of the regulations.

I have no doubt that some in our society will deem the regulations to be coercive or akin to decisions made by an authoritarian state. In my mind, however, they are essential steps that we should take.

In September, Queen's University Belfast published the most up-to-date cancer incidence and survival statistics for the North. It is a really impressive study, and I urge Members to give it the attention that it warrants. The findings are that, in the last five years, the number of cancer cases per year, excluding non-melanoma skin cancer, has increased by 11%. It is frightening that, while the incidence rate for lung cancer has decreased by 7% for men, it has increased by 16% for women. Our cancer incidence rate is 14% higher in the most deprived areas. The most common cancer to be diagnosed at stage 4 is lung cancer. From those figures, we also see that the survival rate for lung cancer is 11% in men and 15% in women. I would not call this coercion in any shape or form; I call it humanitarian legislation, because those figures are simply not going down.

My view and that of my party is that the statutory rules (SRs) must form part of a wider preventative effort to improve the health and well-being of our population. We are an ageing population, so our preventative measures must be as robust as possible. Our cancer strategy, which is set to be published this month, is part of that. I ask the Minister to ensure that that policy is expedited without delay. I support the regulations and continue to support the Minister. I hope that they are effective tools in our determination to provide positive, preventative healthcare in the North.

Photo of Alan Chambers Alan Chambers UUP 1:00, 6 December 2021

I declare an interest as part-owner of a family business that sells tobacco products. That said, I welcome and fully support all legislation that provides clarity to retailers who sell tobacco and tobacco-related products. This further control will make a huge contribution to public health, especially that of our young people.

Banning smoking in a private vehicle when a child is present is important legislation that will protect the health of our young people. My party welcomes the legislation, which has been our party policy for some time. We commend the Minister for bringing the legislation to the House today. The harm inflicted by second-hand smoke inhalation should not be underestimated. The evidence for the harm that it causes is overwhelming. My party fully supports the statutory rules.

Photo of Paula Bradshaw Paula Bradshaw Alliance

I am delighted to support the regulations. We on the all-party group on cancer have been campaigning on this for many years. I thank the officials from the Department of Health for drafting the regulations during the pandemic.

Ultimately, it is about protecting people under the age of 18 from the impact of tobacco and, as the Minister and Mr McGrath have already outlined, from the impact of cancer. The regulations are long overdue. Nonetheless, they are here today. They match those elsewhere in the UK. We note that enforcement falls not just to councils but to the police; that is to be welcomed. In the current context, the regulations give an important sign that we legislate to ensure that people take responsibility not just for their own health and well-being but for that of other people. In this case, those other people are a particularly vulnerable group: children.

As the Chair of the Health Committee indicated, I was slightly concerned about a couple of areas of the regulations. Those areas will be addressed by departmental officials, and they relate to motorhomes and fines. The Minister indicated that the fine is £50 but that can be reduced to £30, if it is paid quickly. I am concerned that £30 will not cause much damage to the purses of some people, and that those people will flout the regulations. Nevertheless, the Nicotine Inhaling Products (Age of Sale and Proxy Purchasing) Regulations are complementary, reinforcing that adults should not in any way be able to make children victims of smoking. Regulation 3 usefully defines the term "nicotine product". That is, of course, always developing, and the regulation has to be updated to stay in line. The Tobacco Retailer (Fixed Penalty) (Amount) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2016 have been updated to define the fixed penalties involved, and I very much welcome that clarity.

It is important to congratulate all those who have been involved in the campaign for this step. I pick out in particular Cancer Focus; Cancer Research UK; Action Cancer; Chest, Heart and Stroke; and the Stroke Association. They have lobbied for this for many years and will be delighted that we have got to this stage. As a Chamber, we are stating clearly how we expect people to behave responsibly towards the most vulnerable. We have heard today about issues such as asthma and cancer, and we have a duty to those whom we represent to put forward health policy and regulations that protect people's health not just now but in the future.

It is not expected that the smoking in cars legislation will frequently need to be enforced; indeed, in the first four years of application in Scotland, no penalties were applied, and we expect people to go along with it in recognition of the protection that it is designed to offer. I welcome, however, the Department's commitment for a full and comprehensive communications action plan to ensure awareness of the new rules before they come into force. Fundamentally, the regulations are about good public health, and there is no better time than now to bring them in. I strongly commend them.

Photo of Patsy McGlone Patsy McGlone Social Democratic and Labour Party

I call the Minister to make a winding-up speech.

Photo of Robin Swann Robin Swann UUP

First, I thank the Chair, Deputy Chair and members of the Health Committee not just for speaking in the debate but for their support in bringing forward the regulations to the House.

I will address a number of issues that were raised in the debate. The delay in bringing the regulations forward was noted by a number of Members. As the Chair of the Committee indicated, the delay was caused by this place not sitting and by the officials working on issues relating to the pandemic and to Brexit. When the opportunity arose to bring forward the regulations, at a time that allowed my officials to bring them forward and the Committee to engage with them, we did so.

I join Ms Bradshaw in acknowledging the organisations that continued to lobby for the regulations, which bring us in line with the rest of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.

The Chair of the Committee and Ms Bradshaw raised a concern about caravans and motorhomes. I draw the Members' attention to regulation 2(2)(6) of the draft statutory rule, which clarifies that:

"(a) a caravan or motor caravan that is stationary and not on a road; or (b) a caravan or motor caravan that is stationary, is on a road and is being used as living accommodation." is outside the regulations. That is covered in the front page of the regulations.

The Deputy Chair of the Committee, Ms Pam Cameron, indicated her support and asked that, when evidence is received in the months and years ahead, I give a commitment to bring the regulations in. I will give the Department of Health's commitment in the months and years ahead that it will move when the evidence is presented. I will not make any presumptions about who may be in this office at that point.

I turn to Mr McGrath's comments. I thank the SDLP for its support for the draft statutory rules, which he described as "adequate". I think that they extensively give effect to the policy intent of the regulations over the years that they have been sitting in abeyance. I am glad that we have got here today with all-party support for what needs to be done. As regards Mr McGrath's indication of the importance of the cancer strategy being brought forward in a timely way, it is imperative that we do that.

The Deputy Chair of the Committee raised the issue of when the regulations, especially those on travelling in private vehicles, will come into effect. That is covered on the front page of the regulations. They will be applicable if:

"(a) it is enclosed, (b)there is more than one person present in the vehicle, and (c)a person under the age of 18 is present in the vehicle."

All three of those conditions must be met.

I thank Mr Chambers for his contribution. I am thankful for the acknowledgement of his and my party's support for bringing the regulations forward when we had the opportunity to do so.

The final Member who spoke was Ms Bradshaw. She raised a number of points, including the importance of the lobbying of other organisations in making sure that the issue did not drop off the agenda and the work of the all-party group in keeping the issue in focus. I acknowledge the thanks that she passed on to the departmental officials for their engagement in that regard. She also highlighted the importance of the dual approach to enforcement of the regulations involving the PSNI and local government.

Having covered the points made by Members, I hope that we can all agree on the importance of protecting our young people from exposure to second-hand smoke and nicotine addiction. The 2019-2020 health survey showed that 92% of adults who own a family car do not allow smoking in it when children are present. That is an encouragingly high number, but there is no room for complacency. More broadly, it is hoped that the Smoke-Free (Private Vehicles) Regulations will further reduce any misperceived acceptability of subjecting children to toxic second-hand smoke in any private setting. They will also, hopefully, help to prevent children from taking up the habit by further de-normalising smoking.

Protecting our young people from a potentially lifelong nicotine addiction and the as yet unknown impacts of long-term vaping is, without question, an important public health initiative. The 2019 young persons' behaviour and attitudes survey showed that 3% of 11-to-16-year-olds used e-cigarettes regularly, which is once a week. That figure is the same as the 2016 survey and remains relatively low, but, worryingly, one fifth of that age group have tried an e-cigarette at least once. This regulatory safeguard is a vital tool in reducing children's access to e-cigarettes and subsequently reducing the potential for early nicotine addiction.

I beg that the regulations be approved.

Question put and agreed to. Resolved:

That the draft Smoke-Free (Private Vehicles) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021 be approved.