'When will the Conservatives be banning alcohol?' Nick Ferrari puts minister on the spot after smoking ban vote passes

17 April 2024, 08:29 | Updated: 17 April 2024, 08:30

'When will the Conservatives be banning alcohol'? NICK Ferrari puts minister on the spot

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

This is the moment Nick Ferrari puts a government minister on the spot over the government's new plans to ban smoking.

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"When will the Conservatives be banning alcohol?" Nick Ferrari challenged Chief Secretary to the Treasury Laura Trott.

"We will not be banning alcohol," the minister replied.

The conversation comes after Rishi Sunak's proposal to ban young people from ever being able to legally smoke tobacco cleared its first Commons hurdle, despite a swathe of Conservative MPs objecting to it in a blow to his authority.

MPs voted 383 to 67, majority 316, to give the Tobacco and Vapes Bill a second reading.

Nick once again challenged the minister, asking "why would you ban smoking for certain generations but they can go and buy vodka, wine or beer?"

"Because alcohol and nicotine are very, very different in terms of the addictive effects of them, and the wider effects they have on the people around you," she replied.

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The legislation, seen by the Prime Minister as a key part of his long-term legacy, would make it illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone born after January 1 2009, with the aim of creating a "smoke-free" generation.

It does not criminalise current smokers, but is aimed at preventing the harms caused by smoking, the leading causes of preventable illness and death in the UK.

The proposals 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.

Conservative MPs were given a free vote, meaning those who voted against the Government's position will not face punishment.

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Kemi Badenoch, the business and trade secretary, said she had "significant concerns" about the legislation - principally "equality under the law and treating adults differently".

Badenoch told LBC's Iain Dale that Rishi Sunak's Tobacco and Vapes Bill "would mean a 50-year-old could do something and a 49-year-old couldn't".

Responding to LBC's Iain Dale's suggestion that it was a significant move for a Cabinet minister to vote against the party line, Badenoch said: "I thought very long and hard about it and I would rather have not voted against. But I thought actually a free vote gives you to step outside of collective responsibility and explain some of your thinking."

The business secretary said she went through "multiple iterations" of how she should vote on the Bill.

"My father died of cancer and we believe that it was a lung cancer that actually spread to his brain," she said.

"I think it's important that people realise that I'm not actually a supporter of smoking. I don't like it and I've never been a smoker. I have seen the damage that it does and I want to see that smoke-free generation."

"But how we draft legislation and the approach we take is just as important as the intentions. You know that phrase: the road to hell is paved with good intentions - it applies to so many areas of policy where we allow the thing we want to do to justify the means. But I don't think the end justifies the means.

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