New legislation to create a "smoke free generation" has divided opinion, with many in Suffolk also split on the possible implications. 

Rishi Sunak said the Tobacco and Vapes Bill aimed to "stamp out smoking for good" among young people as it will see those born from 2009 onwards effectively be banned from buying products legally. 

In Suffolk, some say it would be good for public health, while others worry it would restrict freedoms.

What does the ban mean?

MPs voted on Tuesday to ban young people from ever being able to legally buy tobacco, despite many from the Prime Minister’s own party objecting to it.

The Bill is expected to make it illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone born after January 1, 2009, which covers children who are 15 years old and younger in 2024.

The law would be one of the toughest anti-smoking measures in the world.

The legal age for buying tobacco, currently 18, would increase every year by one year so that people born in or after 2009 will never legally be able to buy cigarettes - and effectively creating a ban. 

The government aims to have these changes in place by 2027, when the age will rise to 19.

What about vaping?

The law will also give the government new powers to clamp down on young people vaping, imposing restrictions on flavours and regulating the way they are packaged and sold to make them less appealing to children.

Ipswich vape shop weighs in

The Ecigwizard shop in Westgate Street sells vapes, disposable vapes, and other products related to vaping, and so the new law currently will not greatly affect the business.

Ipswich Star: Ecigwizard is on Westgate Street.Ecigwizard is on Westgate Street. (Image: Google)

A spokesperson said: "You currently have to be above the age of 18 to purchase vapes in store and we ID vigorously here. As long as someone can prove they are 18, we can serve them.

"Even if a ban on disposable vapes is to be enforced, we have plenty of products in store to allocate for many people."

How did Suffolk MPs vote?

MP Tom Hunt voted against the proposals, saying they restrict individual freedoms and that vaping could be better regulated.

Ipswich Star: MP Tom Hunt, House of CommonsMP Tom Hunt, House of Commons (Image: House of Commons)

The Ipswich MP said he understood the risks of smoking as his father used to smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day, but he said there has been a decline in smoking in recent years.

Mr Hunt told the LDR service said: "This is an issue that seems to be phased out naturally, by choice. In 1981, approximately 26% of 15-year-olds regularly smoked, and it's now 2%. That's a dramatic reduction.

"We perhaps need smarter regulations around vaping, but I feel that a complete ban is not the right thing to do.

"How is this going to be policed, when someone is able to buy cigarettes when they're friend who is a year younger is not able to? 

"There are also potential concerns with how it will fuel the black market, and if we are going to ban and restrict individual freedoms there needs to be a very compelling and powerful argument for it.

"The principle behind the argument to ban smoking could equally apply to alcohol, sugar, and salt. Where does it stop? There is a slippery slope."

Ipswich Star: Dan Poulter, MP for central Suffolk and north Ipswich.Dan Poulter, MP for central Suffolk and north Ipswich. (Image: Archant)

Dr Daniel Poulter, on the other hand, welcomed the plans and disagreed with the comparison between smoking and alcohol.

Speaking in the Commons, the Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP, who is also a practising NHS consultant addiction psychiatrist, said: “Moderate alcohol and moderate bad eating are very different from moderate smoking because moderate smoking kills.

"It means that people live on average 10 years less and it means less healthy lives.

“This is not about libertarianism but about doing the right thing, protecting public health and protecting the next generation.”

In Suffolk, the bill’s second reading saw support from Jo Churchill, Daniel Poulter, James Cartlidge, and Peter Aldous, with only Tom Hunt voting against it.

Both Matt Hancock and Therese Coffey did not vote.

'Vaping is safer than smoking', says council

Councillor Craig Rivett, Suffolk cabinet member for public health and protection, said: “I welcome the legislation to restrict disposable vapes and to end cigarette sales to those born on or after January 1, 2009 moving through to the next stage.

Ipswich Star: Craig Rivett, the council's cabinet member for public health and public protection.Craig Rivett, the council's cabinet member for public health and public protection. (Image: Mick Howes)

"Smoking is the UK’s biggest preventable killer and any measure to reduce the harms of smoking is welcomed by Suffolk County Council.

“The chief medical officer’s guidance on vaping is clear: if you smoke, vaping is much safer; if you don’t smoke, don’t vape; marketing vapes to children is utterly unacceptable.

“Suffolk’s Tobacco Control Alliance is working in partnership to prevent people from starting to smoke or vape, support people to quit and to protect people from illicit tobacco, vapes and underage sales.”