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By Paul Seddon & Vicki Young
BBC News

Rishi Sunak’s flagship bill to eventually ban smoking looks set to be shelved after he called a surprise July general election.

There is not enough time to pass the law before Parliament shuts down for the election on Friday.

But Mr Sunak remains committed to creating a “smoke-free generation” and the ban is likely to feature in the Conservative manifesto.

Labour has also said it will bring in the ban if it wins the election.

The proposed law would prevent anyone born after 2009 from legally smoking by gradually raising the minimum age to buy cigarettes from the current level of 18.

In an update to MPs, Commons leader Penny Mordaunt did not list the bill in the business currently scheduled to take place before Friday.

She added that talks over which other bills to save were “ongoing,” and her Labour counterpart Lucy Powell said the bill was “at risk”.

Under the government’s plan, the age rises were not due to begin until 2027. It would not affect those who can currently buy cigarettes.

But there are only two days left to pass the legislation, which was yet to start its journey through the House of Lords.

The main two parties are currently in negotiations over which draft laws could be quickly put through Parliament before it is suspended on Friday.

Parliament will then be formally shut down on Thursday next week, triggering a five-week official campaign period.

Mr Sunak highlighted the smoking ban in his speech announcing the election on Wednesday, in a signal it would feature in the Tory election manifesto.

He said: “We will ensure that the next generation grows up smoke free.”

It would have eventually made the UK the first country in the world to ban adults from buying tobacco, and had been seen as a political legacy for Mr Sunak if the Tories are not re-elected.

23 April