MPs on Tuesday will debate and vote for the first time on Government plans to stop young people from ever smoking.

Rishi Sunak sees the Tobacco and Vapes Bill as a key part of his long-term legacy as he bids to “stamp out smoking for good”.

However, the Prime Minister is set to face opposition to the Bill from within his own party.

Here the PA news agency looks at the details in the legislation, arguments for an against implementation, and what can be expected during the Commons vote.

Someone vaping
MPs are set to vote on smoking and vaping restrictions (Nicholas T Ansell/PA)

– What is in the Tobacco and Vapes Bill?

The Bill will make it illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone born after January 1 2009, which covers children who are currently 15 or younger.

The legislation would not ban smoking outright as anyone who can legally buy tobacco now will be able to continue to do so if the Bill becomes law.

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

Trading standards officers will be able to issue fines to retailers who ignore the new restrictions, with the revenue raised redirected to fund further enforcement.

– Why is the Government introducing the legislation?

Announcing the Government’s plans last year, Rishi Sunak said he was motivated by wanting to “build a better and brighter future for our children”, citing the tens of thousands of deaths annually caused by smoking, the costs to the NHS and the “hugely detrimental” impact on productivity in the UK.

Rishi Sunak visit to north west London
Rishi Sunak is seeking to establish a legacy by introducing some of the toughest smoking restrictions in the world (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Smoking is the UK’s biggest preventable killer. According to official figures the habit causes about one in four deaths from cancer and leads to 64,000 deaths in England per year.

In terms of the impact on health services, the Government says almost one hospital admission a minute is attributable to smoking while 75,000 GP appointments a month are taken up by smoking-related illness.

According to the Government, creating a “smoke-free generation” could prevent more than 470,000 cases of heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and other diseases by the end of the century.

The Bill is strongly supported by health experts.

– How will the proposed ban work in practice?

Under the new law, 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.

The Government aims to have the new system up and running by 2027, when the age will rise to 19.

Popular Conservatism movement launch
Former prime minister Liz Truss has described the Government’s smoking plan as ‘unconservative’ (Victoria Jones/PA)

Shopkeepers caught selling tobacco to underage customers will face a £100 on-the-spot fine under a boosted enforcement regime, which is in addition to the £2,500 penalties that local authorities can currently impose.

The new law poses a potential challenge for shopkeepers as the legal age for buying tobacco rises each year and the number of people who are not able to buy tobacco legally increases.

While the new rules will apply to duty free shops in the UK, people who buy tobacco abroad would still be able to bring the products back to the UK as long as they were acquired legally.

– What are opponents of the Bill saying?

Some prominent Tories have spoken out against the Bill.

Mr Sunak’s predecessor, Liz Truss, described the plans as “profoundly unconservative”, while former prime minster Boris Johnson last week described the ban as “nuts”.

Other more libertarian-minded Tory MPs have criticised the plan, while smokers’ lobbying group Forest has questioned the decision to prioritise restrictions on purchasing tobacco in the face of multiple other domestic and international problems.

England’s chief medical officer Sir Chris Whitty
England’s chief medical officer Sir Chris Whitty rejected the ‘pro-choice’ arguments against the Bill (Aaron Chown/PA)

Forest director Simon Clark said: “We urge MPs to reject a policy that will fuel the black market and treat future generations of adults like kids.”

England’s chief medical officer, Sir Chris Whitty, rejected the “pro-choice” arguments against the Bill.

He said cigarettes were a product “designed to take your choice away” and resistance to the plan was “surprising”.

– What will happen in the House of Commons later?

The Tobacco and Vapes Bill will be debated at its second reading this afternoon ahead of the first vote on the legislation.

Conservative MPs have been granted a free vote, meaning they can vote with their personal conscience rather than follow the official party line.

There are expected to be several Tory MPs who will oppose the Bill despite it being the Government’s flagship health policy.

With the Prime Minister’s authority repeatedly being questioned in recent months, there is plenty of speculation over the size of rebellion and likely some anxiety in Number 10 over the outcome.

Most concerning for Mr Sunak is that there are reports that some Cabinet ministers are considering opposing the Bill.

– Is Labour supporting the Bill and will it pass?

Labour will support the Government plans but has embraced an opportunity to take a swipe at the Tory leadership.

Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg
Labour’s shadow health secretary Wes Streeting has said granting Tory MPs a free vote on the smoking ban was a sign of Rishi Sunak’s weakness (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said the Prime Minister had demonstrated he is “too weak to stand up to the Liz Truss wing of his party” by giving his MPs a free vote.

He added: “Though Tory MPs may oppose this measure, Labour will not play politics with public health. Labour will vote through this Bill, so that young people today are even less likely to smoke than they are to vote Tory.”

With Labour’s support there is no danger of the Bill not being voted through, but significant numbers of Tory dissenters, particularly prominent ones, will be seen as a further sign of instability in the party.

– How do the measures compare with those in other countries?

Measures in the Bill would constitute some of the toughest anti-smoking measures in the world.

The plans are believed to have been inspired by a sweeping crackdown planned by New Zealand’s previous government.

However, the county’s new Government has moved to repeal the law after winning power in October 2023, saying it would help fund tax cuts.

Street scene in Portugal
Portugal is aiming to become smoke-free by 2040, with plans to ban the sale of tobacco products in bars and cafes (Alamy/PA)

Countries with notable restrictions on smoking include Mexico, which has smoking bans at beaches, parks and some homes.

Portugal is aiming to become smoke-free by 2040, with plans to ban the sale of tobacco products in bars and cafes.

Meanwhile, Canada became the first country to require health warnings to be printed on individual cigarettes.

More than one quarter of the world’s population are covered by smoking bans in public spaces, according to the World Health Organisation.

Of the 74 countries with smoke-free policies, Ireland was the first to ban smoking in all indoor workplaces in 2004.