Smokefree 2030 — [Caroline Nokes in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:30 am on 26th April 2022.

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Photo of Andrew Gwynne Andrew Gwynne Shadow Minister (Health and Social Care) 10:30 am, 26th April 2022

I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention, and I think my answer will be very similar to that given by the hon. Member for Harrow East earlier. Yes, vaping has a clear role to play in reducing people’s addiction to nicotine and tobacco products, and clearly it has health benefits over smoking. However, I am increasingly concerned, partly because I see it in my own constituency—I recognise that this is only anecdotal evidence, but I see kids vaping. There is no good reason for children in Tameside or Stockport, or anywhere else in the United Kingdom, to be vaping.

I think the Government have to look very clearly at what is happening here, because vaping has a real role to play in helping people to wean themselves off nicotine and tobacco products, which I support. However, if we are starting to see children vaping because it is seen as the cool thing to do, as a replacement for what smoking was back in the day, then I think that is a cause of real concern that needs to be looked at. Like the hon. Member for Harrow East, I really do see the benefits of vaping, but we have to tread with caution, because we are starting to see the next generation of vapers being created. I want all children to be not just smokefree but vape-free. As I said, children have no reason to vape.

In closing, can the Minister say whether she recognises our concern about the lack of a tobacco control plan; whether she recognises the need to do more in such a short period, because we are now only eight years away from 2030; and whether she will pledge to resume public awareness campaigns about smoking and start to get really serious, as I know she wants to be, about a smokefree 2030?

Javed Khan’s independent review is exceptionally welcome, but we need to know that his recommendations will not be brushed aside. The tobacco control plan, when it comes, must contain the bold measures needed to create a healthier and more resilient nation. I give the Minister my word that the Labour party is ready and waiting to support the Government on that. We will give her the backing she needs to drive through the necessary reforms in Parliament. We cannot afford to waste more time. The clock is ticking, and as each second passes a smokefree 2030 slips further from our grip. Let us take this opportunity to redouble our efforts, with support from across the House, to make a smokefree 2030 a reality.