Northern Ireland to be included in UK Government’s tobacco and vapes bill

Northern Ireland to be included in UK Government’s tobacco and vapes bill

Health Minister Robin Swann has confirmed that Northern Ireland will be included in Westminster’s Tobacco and Vapes Bill, subject to approval by the Assembly.

Mr Swann said that he fully supported the UK Government’s plans to create a smoke-free generation and to tackle youth vaping.

Health Minister Robin Swann

He added that parents and teachers had shared their concerns with him on the growing trend among young people vaping, and that many people in Northern Ireland were also fully behind the government’s plans.

“While vaping can play a role in supporting smoking cessation, the public health advice remains clear – if you don’t smoke or vape, keep it that way – this is particularly important for children and young people,” said Mr Swann.

“If there are measures available that will reduce preventable deaths, help people live longer, healthier lives then, as Health Minister, I must advocate for them.

“Following the restoration of the NI Executive and with their support, I requested that Northern Ireland be included in the UK Government bill and this has now been agreed. Ultimately, it will be for the NI Assembly to take a final decision on our inclusion.

“Having previously introduced legislation in 2021 to help protect children from the harms of tobacco smoke and vaping, I am confident that these latest measures, if passed, will enable us to go a step further and create a future where our young people are free from these dangers.”

‘The government needs to make more financial resources available for educational campaigns’

National President of the Fed, Muntazir Dipoti

UK Minister for Public Health, Andrea Leadsom welcomed the news that Northern Ireland will “bring forward the smoke-free generation”.

“It’s excellent our Northern Ireland colleagues will join us in tackling the worrying rise in youth vaping – putting children’s health first.”

The UK Government plans also includes a ban on disposable vapes, with the proposed ban anticipated to be progressed under environmental legislation in Great Britain. The Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs is considering the next steps for Northern Ireland.

However, the Federation of Independent Retailers (the Fed) said a ban on disposable vapes would only fuel illicit sales.

“Banning disposable vapes in the UK will not help people give up smoking and vaping but will fuel the illicit market,” said National President, Muntazir Dipoti.

To clamp down on young people vaping, the government needed to make more financial resources available for educational campaigns, while more enforcement activity was required, especially at borders to prevent counterfeit products entering the market, Mr Dipoti added.