5. Member Debate under Standing Order 11.21(iv): Control of tobacco and nicotine products

Part of the debate – in the Senedd at 3:40 pm on 15 May 2024.

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Photo of John Griffiths John Griffiths Labour 3:40, 15 May 2024

I very much support what we've heard from Mabon ap Gwynfor, which I think makes a very clear and strong case for that retail register. I know from my own constituency—I'm sure this applies to other Members—just how prevalent the problems caused by tobacco and vaping are at the current time. Vaping, for example, is increasingly a problem even in primary schools, where headteachers are very concerned about the health and well-being and keeping good order in the school aspects of vaping and the problems that vaping brings to those concerns. And parents, of course, are very concerned as well. And, as I say, that's at a primary school level, let alone what's happening in our secondary schools. 

As we've heard from Mabon, tobacco use is still such a huge problem to our health and well-being in Wales, isn't it? And, again, we're all very familiar with the statistics, and just what a cause of preventable death and injury smoking is, the fact that it affects our more deprived communities to a greater extent and it's a very strong driver of health inequalities and that gap in life expectancy and healthy life expectancy between our most and least deprived communities. So, there's an awful lot to be done on tobacco still.

Illegal tobacco is a very big problem, and those illegal operators are very much concerned with selling illegal vapes, as well as illegal tobacco. And very often, it goes together as a package, as it were. So, there's a great deal for trading standards to do in terms of enforcement. And recently, in the cross-party group on smoking, we brought some of the key players together—the deputy future generations commissioner, academics, trading standards, ASH Cymru, of course, the health sector—and looked at some of these problems, and we reflected on some of the statistics that Mabon has already rehearsed in terms of the survey and the key statistics that ASH Cymru put before us.

It is a very, very clear case, and it does have very strong public support. And that does give a very fair wind, I think, in terms of what Welsh Government might do with key partners to establish that retail register and have that licensing scheme. And that cross-party group, I think, with all the key partners involved, was very clear in terms of the need for that register, that licensing scheme, and the benefits that it would bring.

As I said in beginning my remarks, Dirprwy Lywydd, I do think that, at the beginning of this important debate, Mabon has very clearly outlined a very strong case for this action—this retail register and this licensing scheme. Much of what I was going to say Mabon has already said. And I would just like very much to support this proposal, these proposals, and hope that Welsh Government—which I'm pretty confident it does—sees the sense of having this approach and will do all it can to bring about that register, that licensing scheme.