The House of Commons has voted in favour of Rishi Sunak’s smoking ban by 383 votes to 67, however, there was a sizeable Tory rebellion and a significant number of abstentions.

Nearly half of Conservative MPs, including five potential contenders for party leadership, did not back Rishi Sunak’s primary legislation on smoking.

A total of 165 Conservative members either refrained from voting or opposed the bill, with Liz Truss cautioning that it could pave the way for further restrictive measures advocated by the “health police.”

This forced the Prime Minister to rely on Labour MPs’ support to push the legislation forward.

Among those who voted against the Tobacco and Vapes Bill was Kemi Badenoch, widely regarded as a prospective Tory leadership candidate. Ms Badenoch said:

“I’m not a smoker and think it is an unpleasant habit, costly for both the individual and society,” she tweeted.

“The PM’s intentions with this Bill are honest and mark him out as a leader who doesn’t duck the thorny issues. I agree with his policy intentions but I have significant concerns and appreciate the PM making this a free vote.

“It gives me the opportunity to express my personal view, outside collective responsibility. The principle of equality under the law is a fundamental one. It underpins many of my personal beliefs.

“We should not treat legally competent adults differently in this way, where people born a day apart will have permanently different rights. Among other reasons it will create difficulties with enforcement. This burden will fall not on the state but on private businesses.

“Smoking rates are already declining significantly in the UK and I think there is more we can do to stop children taking up the habit. However, I do not support the approach this bill is taking and so will be voting against it.”

Other leadership aspirants, Suella Braverman and Robert Jenrick, also opposed the bill, while Penny Mordaunt and Priti Patel chose to abstain.

Former immigration minister Robert Jenrick posted on X:

“I believe in personal freedom. Let’s educate more and ban less.”

Among those who also voted against the legislation were deputy Tory Party chairmen Rachel Maclean and Jonathan Gullis.

Former Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, also criticised the plan calling it “mad” and “absolutely nuts”. Last week during a speech at a Conservative conference in Ottawa, Canada, Mr Johnson said:

“When the party of Winston Churchill wants to ban cigars, donnez-moi un break as they say in Quebec, it’s just mad.”

The bill, unveiled with great anticipation at last year’s Conservative conference, aims to prohibit the sale of tobacco products to individuals born after 2009, with the objective of fostering a “smoke-free” generation.

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