New Clause 7 - Retail licence for sale of tobacco, vaping and nicotine products

Part of Tobacco and Vapes Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 14 May 2024.

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Photo of Bob Blackman Bob Blackman Conservative, Harrow East 2:30, 14 May 2024

There is a degree of repetition in this. New clauses 7 and 8 relate to where tobacco products are sold and the licensing of them. There is a genuine debate, in both the industry and the House, about whether we should have a licensing scheme for tobacco, vaping and other nicotine products. These two new clauses would allow the Secretary of State to introduce regulations both on a licensing scheme and to limit the products that would be made available for sale in particular premises. The whole purpose behind this provision would be to say that the individuals who are selling these products would have to apply for a licence. Presumably, after a consultation, there would be a licence fee. That would add to the ability of the enforcement agencies to know that these products were properly licensed and being sold from licensed premises.

There is of course the issue that this could limit the number of retailers that would be able to sell such products. One concern that I have in this regard is not so much on tobacco but on vaping. We have seen, up and down the country, the rapid growth of stores selling just vaping products. They have—without doubt, without question—been selling to younger people, and we are concerned about the rapid growth of those particular areas.

There has been quite considerable legislation limiting tobacco sales over the years. We can go back over the age of sale. We can talk about the advertising displays. We can talk about keeping the products literally behind shutters so that people have to ask for the products rather than their being openly and clearly available. The two new clauses would get us to a position whereby there would be a requirement for the proper regulation of those markets. I know that the intent behind the Bill is to create a smoke-free generation, but we are taking on the vaping issue as well. At this stage, we propose that, if such a scheme were to be introduced, the Secretary of State would need to consult on those issues. I do not intend to prevent the Bill from progressing, but the Secretary of State will need to consider these things, whether during the later stages of the Bill or subsequently.