The need to get the necessary regulations in place to introduce standardised packaging for tobacco products and ban smoking in cars with children present has again been raised directly with the Prime Minister at question time by Stockton North Labour MP, Alex Cunningham.
Despite the strong case for strengthening tobacco control measures and the need for urgent action to tackle what is the leading cause of preventable mortality in the UK, Tory-led Government has been dragging its feet and putting more lives at risk.
But Alex is determined to keep the issue high profile to push the Prime Minister to maintain the momentum generated by the passage of the Children and Families Act.
Clauses in the Act took the form of enabling legislation, freeing the Government to bring forward regulations to implement both standardised packaging for tobacco products and, separately, a ban on smoking in cars when children are present.
However, during questions to the Prime Minister in the House of Commons when Alex again raised the issue and asked when such regulations would be published, David Cameron revealed his reluctance to act by referring to a need to wait until the Government’s legislative agenda is announced in the upcoming Queen’s Speech.
Following Prime Minister’s Questions, Alex said:
“It was my understanding that, as the necessary legislation is already in place within the Children and Families Act for both standard packaging and the ban on smoking in cars with children present, the Government is able to bring forward the necessary regulations when it chooses to do so.
“After hearing the Prime Minister casually dismiss the need for urgent action, I have confirmed with Parliamentary authorities that this is indeed the case.
“While the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Public Health appears to be moving towards getting regulations in place, progress has been glacial and an announcement in early-April will see yet another consultation exercise undertaken before regulations are published.
“By doing so, the Government is putting the health of more young people in jeopardy. With over 500 young people starting to smoke each day, these additional delays will see thousands more children take up a habit that kills half of long-term users than would have been the case had the Government acted swiftly.
“I have therefore written to David Cameron asking him to clarify his position and to confirm when we can expect to see regulations brought forward.”