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

Part of the debate – in the Senedd at 3:56 pm on 15 May 2024.

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Photo of Gareth Davies Gareth Davies Conservative 3:56, 15 May 2024

Delyth, I think that's not a fair comparison to be honest. Heroin is not a fair comparison at all. Heroin wrecks people's lives, and the addiction level between tobacco and heroin—that is not a fair comparison at all, and I don't accept that at all.

I believe that this issue does not always require ever-increasing legislation, which often isn’t intended to garner results, but to show that our hearts are in the right place. We instead need to better enforce the laws already on our statute books. It’s already a crime to sell products containing nicotine to people under the age of 18, but adequate resources are not lent by the state to ensure that these laws and regulations are abided by.

We have seen that it is incredibly easy for young people to buy vape and e-cigarette products on the high street, and we need to do more than legislate to get these devices out of the hands of children. I understand how a national register for retailers, which Mabon is advocating, could be advantageous for that, and I am broadly supportive. Despite laying out my unease with some of the more coercive, paternalistic actions taken by the state, I care about getting nicotine products out of the hands of children, I care about reducing rates of alcoholism and obesity, and I care about removing ultra-processed foods from children’s diets, which Jenny Rathbone has raised many times before.

The Welsh NHS has published itself that our diet and being overweight or obese have far more impact than tobacco use. As rates of smoking are falling, the number of overweight and, particularly, obese people is increasing. We should shift our attention to these more pressing issues, as our health will continue to deteriorate unless we treat other issues with the same concern. Thank you.