Tobacco and Vapes Bill, Second Reading, House of Commons, 16 April 2024

The LGA believes this is a progressive piece of legislation that would undoubtedly impact on smoking prevalence and ultimately reduce rates of smoking-related disease. We look forward to working with the Government and others to enforce this ban as well as ensure plans for a smokefree generation are a success.

View allPublic health articles

About the Local Government Association

The LGA is the national voice of local government. We are a politically-led, cross party membership organisation, representing councils from England and Wales.  

Our role is to support, promote and improve local government, and raise national awareness of the work of councils. Our ultimate ambition is to support councils to deliver local solutions to national problems. 

Key messages

  • The UK is taking a significant step forward by considering raising the legal age of sale for tobacco products and bringing in rules regulating the marketing, flavours and descriptions of vapes. The LGA believes this is a progressive piece of legislation that would undoubtedly impact on smoking prevalence and ultimately reduce rates of smoking-related disease. We look forward to working with the Government and others to enforce this ban as well as ensure plans for a smokefree generation are a success.
  • We are fully supportive of the Government’s smokefree generation ambitions, which will improve the life chances of people across the country. Local government has consistently been a leader in tackling the harms caused by smoking, whether that is pushing for a ban on smoking in public places or funding local council Stop Smoking services. Smoking remains one of the leading causes of preventable ill health, disability and death in England, and this creates additional pressures on our health and care systems and affects the quality of life for some in our local communities.
  • We welcome the Government’s measures to restrict the availability and marketing of vapes to children. Their colours, flavours and advertising are appealing to children and are a risk to the health of young people.
  • There should be sufficient lead-in time and guidance provided ahead of the legislation coming into force so that councils, retailers and others understand their new obligations and can prepare accordingly.

Smokefree generation

  • In England, local government has had responsibility for stop smoking services and local tobacco control since 2013. Councillors and officers recognise the harm that smoking inflicts on their communities and the importance of continuing to drive down smoking prevalence. Local councils have sustained their support for smokers to quit and many have developed innovative approaches to reduce the harm of tobacco on their local communities. Examples include:

Camden and Islington’s stop smoking service

Medway’s stop smoking service

Coventry’s integrated lifestyle service

The partnership between Durham County Council and the Tobacco Control Alliance

The integration of community and NHS stop smoking services in Salford.

  • Local councils have exploited their strengths to reduce local smoking rates. Their reach into communities has helped in tackling the stark inequalities that characterise the population of smokers, such as the stubbornly high smoking prevalence in low income and disadvantaged communities. Their relationships across communities have helped to build partnerships with the capacity to tackle the harms of tobacco on multiple fronts: supporting smokers to quit, communicating with local people to deter new smokers and encourage smokers to quit, reducing the illicit trade, creating smoke-free public spaces and promoting harm reduction approaches.
  • The LGA supports the Government’s progressive move to raise the legal age of sale for tobacco products. This is a progressive policy that will have a positive impact on smoking prevalence and ultimately reduce rates of smoking-related disease. This proposal is supported by 71 per cent of the public, with 17 per cent opposed. This includes majority support from voters of the main political parties.
  • Raising the legal age for tobacco purchase has been shown to reduce the likelihood of young people starting to smoke. The UK saw a fall in youth smoking when age of sale was raised from 16 to 18 in 2005, and when it was increased to 21 in the USA more recently.
  • Acknowledging nicotine's highly addictive nature, restricting tobacco access for those born after January 1, 2009, aims to prevent lifelong addiction, particularly among young individuals, breaking the cycle of addiction in adulthood.
  • To make such a policy effective, we support strict enforcement measures and tough penalties for selling tobacco and e-cigarettes to those underage.
  • Local authority trading standards teams have seen a significant reduction to core budgets over recent years, and continue to face acute staff shortages, whilst also seeing the number of enforcement responsibilities increase through new legislation on a range of different Government priorities. The LGA is also calling on the Government to boost the future pipeline of qualified trading standards officers through a dedicated apprenticeship fund, investing in regional support networks and enabling councils to recover regulatory service costs. The success of the new legislation will be dependent upon the ability to enforce it, and it is therefore crucial that adequate funding and resources are dedicated towards this.


  • While research has shown vaping poses a small fraction of the risks of smoking, it is deeply worrying that more and more children – who have never smoked – are starting vaping.
  • Many local areas have noted an increase in shops selling vapes to young people, and subsequently have stepped up enforcement activity to deal with the issue. The marketing of vapes to children is utterly unacceptable. The LGA has been calling for all vaping products to be subject to the same rules as cigarettes - sold in plain packaging and kept out of reach and sight of children behind shop counters.
  • A 2023 survey from ASH found that the proportion of 11- to 17-year-olds in the UK who stated they were current users more than doubled from 3.3 per cent in 2021 to 7.6 per cent in 2023, while those trying vaping once or twice increased by 50 per cent compared to 2022. 
  • Research from King's College London found that 40 per cent of teenagers expressed a preference for certain vaping products while only 32 per cent had a preference when they had generic packaging. This suggests that removing or reducing the imagery and branding from vaping products may help discourage teen use, and we believe this is something the Government should carefully consider.
  • The LGA also believes that sanctions need to be reviewed and more robust measures should be introduced to tackle the significant number of retailers who persistently sell vapes to under-age children. Councils should be able to issue fixed penalty notices as prosecutions can be resource intensive, and consideration should be given to being able to issue fines on a scale in accordance with the issues identified, for example number of under-age sales, age of recipient and the number of times the retailer broke the rules. Where required, there should be the possibility of using the higher fines and stronger sentences which are available to the courts to act as a clear deterrent to retailers who flout the rules. It is also important action is taken to tackle the online supply of vaping products. It would assist councils if there was a body that could take the appropriate enforcement action.
  • An area that has also been concerning in relation to vaping is the effect on the environment, particularly disposable vapes. Research from Material Focus found that 5 million single use vapes are thrown away every week, totalling up to 21 million per month and 260 million per year. In July 2023, the insurer Zurich Municipal published research which found that two million single use vapes are discarded incorrectly in the UK every week, three per second – with 78 per cent ending up in general waste, rather than being recycled.
  • Single use vapes are designed as one unit so batteries cannot be separated from the plastic, making them almost impossible to recycle. Councils report they are experiencing pollution from vapes in the form of plastic materials, electronic waste and hazardous chemicals. In particular, the lithium-ion batteries inside the plastic can sharply increase in temperature if crushed and can become flammable. This all comes at a cost to the council taxpayer through fire damage to equipment and the specialist treatment needed to deal with hazardous waste.
  • Many councils across England have passed their own motions calling for a ban on disposable vapes. These include (but are not limited to):


Arian Nemati

Public Affairs and Campaigns Adviser

Mobile: 07799 038403

Email:  [email protected]