Liz Truss calls on PM to reverse ‘profoundly unconservative’ smoking ban proposal

Former prime minister Liz Truss has urged her successor in No 10 Downing Street to reverse the government’s policy on banning smoking, labelling the initiative “profoundly unconservative”.

The government’s smoking bill will be debated in the House of Commons next month, with the prime minister likely to face further criticism from Conservative colleagues.

The bill is likely to be opposed by several “anti-nanny state” Conservatives, including Truss.

Last night, Liz Truss urged the government to reverse the “profoundly unconservative policy”, adding: “While the state has a duty to protect children from harm, in a free society, adults must be able to make their own choices about their own lives.

“Banning the sale of tobacco products to anyone born in 2009 or later will create an absurd situation where adults enjoy different rights based on their birthdate. A Conservative government should not be seeking to extend the nanny state. 

“This will only give succour to those who wish to ban further choices of which they don’t approve.”

It comes as Rishi Sunak today announces a complete ban on disposable vapes, set to come into force across the UK early next year — as well as new restrictions on vape flavours and displays.

With ministers pressing ahead with legislation that will make smoking illegal for anyone currently aged 15 and under, The Times newspaper reports that a group of Conservatives, backed by Truss, are expected to support an amendment to the bill.

The rebels’ plan would replace the prime minister’s policy to eradicate smoking with a one-off increase in the minimum age to 21.

However, the legislation is likely to progress unchanged with the backing of the Labour Party.

Together, the smoking ban and new vaping policy form part of the government’s response to its consultation on smoking and vaping, which was launched in October last year. 

Data shows the number of children vaping in the last three years has tripled, the government has said, adding that use among younger children is also rising, with 9 per cent of 11 to 15-year-olds now using vapes.

Announcing plans to ban disposable vapes in a bid to crack down on their use among children yesterday evening, Rishi Sunak said: “As any parent or teacher knows, one of the most worrying trends at the moment is the rise in vaping among children, and so we must act before it becomes endemic.

“The long-term impacts of vaping are unknown and the nicotine within them can be highly addictive, so while vaping can be a useful tool to help smokers quit, marketing vapes to children is not acceptable.

“As Prime Minister I have an obligation to do what I think is the right thing for our country in the long term. That is why I am taking bold action to ban disposable vapes – which have driven the rise in youth vaping – and bring forward new powers to restrict vape flavours, introduce plain packaging and change how vapes are displayed in shops. is the UK’s leading digital-only political website, providing comprehensive coverage of UK politics. Subscribe to our daily newsletter here.