Skip to content

Today the Prime Minister has renewed his commitment to creating a smoke free generation by banning the next generation from being able to buy cigarettes.

Introduced today, the Tobacco and Vapes Bill will prevent anyone born on or after 1 January 2009 – in effect anyone who is 14 or younger now – from legally being able to buy cigarettes in England during their lives as the smoking age is raised by one year every year, subject to the approval of MPs

As Children’s Commissioner, I want all children to grow up healthy and well. We know the health impacts associated with smoking and more research is needed to understand the long-term effects of vaping.

I have spoken to thousands of children about all aspects of their lives, including their health and wellbeing. I was shocked and concerned to hear about the prevalence of vaping directly from children and young people, some as young as 12. I heard so often that vaping is normalised among young people – even on school premises.

I have asked some of my young Ambassadors their reaction to the Bill– what they think about a potential smoking ban and how much of an issue smoking and vaping is in their lives and at school.

Rylie, Children’s Commissioner Ambassador

A ban on smoking is a great idea, and it can only help reduce smoking and vaping and the health issues that come with it. Vaping was a massive issue when I was at school, with lots of students vaping in school.

It seems that younger and younger children are starting to vape. What’s concerning is there is a lack of education for young people around vaping. It’s done as it’s ‘cool’ without knowing the health impacts it can have. There’s also a huge environmental impact with disposal vapes, with old used vapes all over the floor.

Maya, Children’s Commissioner Ambassador

I think that with the correct education a ban on smoking could work. It will be very difficult but people on or after 1 January 2009 will need to be part of it and understand why the ban has come into place. If not, I think it could lead to a lot of illegal distribution of cigarettes.

Vaping is a large issue in my opinion. So many people mindlessly do it and we don’t know any long-term effects. However, there will need to be help in place for people who are addicted and rely on vapes now, as they will likely suffer as it will be harder to buy them. This could put pressure on the NHS. There also needs to be thought put in place to stop the next ‘cool thing’ that might be dangerous before it gets this bad.

When people vape in the bathrooms at school it’s so difficult to actually use the toilets because they just sit in the stalls. This quite often makes people late for lessons. Because of the large use of vapes right now, I don’t see smoking as so much of an issue as I think people know how harmful they are a bit more. Basically, we can’t just blindly introduce these laws, we have to be prepared for the consequences.

Penelope, Children’s Commissioner Ambassador

The Bill being passed is so significant and long overdue. As we now see the long-term effects of tobacco use, it’s encouraging to see there is action being taken about how to tackle this for future generations.

The ban on smoking will help reduce the dependency on tobacco momentarily, but the government needs to understand the greater risks of preventing this behaviour as it will provoke further illegal trade. So, the initiative appears it will tackle these problems, but it’s essential to have further regulations on illegal trade and can’t impulsively pass legislation to build a mandate going into the next general election, hence how the government should look at more initiatives to support this Bill beyond the next generation.

As we now have scientific research and understanding on the impact of smoking to our bodies, the rise of vape culture is, arguably, more dangerous. The lack of understanding on long term impacts to our bodies and our environment, shows how it can be seen as a silent killer to so many people, especially for young people and the stereotypes of being ‘cool’ while vaping.

As they are a cheaper and more accessible alternative for young people, it appears as a perilous opportunity people become trapped in, such as, the continuous advertisement towards young people via its packaging, demonstrates how vapes are now being irrevocably intertwined with young people’s lives.

Rhea, Children’s Commissioner Ambassador

I think the Bill is important but will be hard to implement. Deterrents for smoking have been implemented previously with stark warnings on packing, yet the age of tobacco consumption is becoming younger and younger. I do think the Bill is a step in the right direction, but I worry that it might simply make people more ‘sneaky’ when selling or buying tobacco.

I personally see more vaping than smoking and believe that vapes are extremely popular. Due to vapes being easily portable and coming in different flavours, they’re actually pretty attractive to younger people who use them in school.

I am more worried about the after or long-term effects of vaping as a lot of young people don’t think it’s as ‘harmful as smoking’: encouraging them to do it more and not be scared of the consequences.

Mehul, Children’s Commissioner Ambassador

The smoking ban is a positive step towards safeguarding the health of younger generations. By preventing access to tobacco at an early age, this legislation can significantly reduce the number of young people who start smoking, ultimately lowering the prevalence of smoking-related diseases and improving public health outcomes – thus heavily reducing the strain on the NHS.

However, the potential challenge of enforcing such a ban can lead to concerns regarding personal freedom, possibly causing more people to find illegal ways of obtaining tobacco products. Nonetheless, it’s a step towards the right direction.

Smoking is definitely an issue that impacts the general life of many teenagers, especially at school. While not all teens smoke or vape, it’s not exactly uncommon either to encounter peers who do, whether it’s in school grounds or outside.

Personally, I find smoking concerning, not just because of its immediate health risks but also because of its long-term consequences. While I know a lot of people like smoking as a means to relieve stress, I would still suggest finding more effective ways that don’t jeopardise the health of the smoker and those around you.

Emmanuel, Children’s Commissioner Ambassador

The Bill is a significant step towards protecting the youth from the harmful effects of smoking. By restricting access to tobacco for younger generations, the bill aims to reduce the number of young people starting to smoke, ultimately improving public health.

Regarding smoking in general life and at school, it’s a serious issue that can have detrimental effects on health. Smoking is a concern not only for individuals but also for the community as a whole. It’s crucial to raise awareness about the dangers of smoking and provide support for those looking to quit.

Vaping has also become a prevalent issue among young people. While some view it as a safer alternative to smoking, it’s essential to understand that vaping still poses health risks, especially for youth. Education on the potential harms of vaping is crucial to prevent its normalization among the younger population.

Rebecca, Children’s Commissioner Ambassador

I think that the idea of banning the selling of tobacco products is a good idea, but it will be difficult to enforce. I think that the outright banning of tobacco products wouldn’t be as effective as having regimes that prevent the use of them. By banning the use of them, it is more likely to force people to smuggle them. I think what needs be done is that tobacco products need to be more regulated.

If this legislation is intended to include vapes, which contain some nicotine, it’s important to note that vaping isn’t completely bad. By making it illegal for people born after 2009 it gives the impression that it is bad which is not necessarily true as it has helped some people to stop smoking completely. Instead, what could happen is making it illegal unless it is for prescription use and you have to go to the doctors to access them – or having higher taxes on vapes.

Poppy, Children’s Commissioner Ambassador

I think the smoking ban sounds good in principle, but if it will be able to be executed efficiently, I’m not sure. The ban also risks the possibility of black market where people are still selling cigarettes to children and young people.

Smoking isn’t really something I see very much – or at least not as much as vaping, which I believe is a very big issue.

In my school lots of children were skipping lessons to vape in bathrooms to the point my school has had to install vape detectors and a sheet where you have to write down when you went to the bathroom.

We also don’t fully know the consequences of vaping yet, which is really scary considering so many do it. The plain packaging for vaping is 100% necessary. There also really needs to be some sort of system in place that stops people from seeing vaping as ‘cool’. There also needs to be an increase in checks on shops that sell vapes, as a lot of them are selling them to children with zero consequences.

Related News Articles