With Parliament passing controversial plans to outlaw the sale of cigarettes, we asked Watford residents to weigh in on the government’s attempt to eliminate smoking.

While there was a recognition of the risks posed by smoking, people highlighted flaws that could see Rishi Sunak’s flagship legislation go up in smoke.

Plans to ban the sale of cigarettes to anyone turning 15 this year were announced in November’s Kings Speech, with the Prime Minister seeking to “protect future generations from the harms of smoking”. The Tobacco and Vapes Bill passed its first Parliamentary hurdle by 383 votes to 67 this week.

Watford Observer: Lee, 66, disagrees with the plan.Lee, 66, disagrees with the plan. (Image: NQ staff)

Lee, 66, who is retired and a smoker, said: “I don’t agree with it because I think people should be allowed to make their own mistakes. The government are involving themselves too much in people's lives.”

This is an argument that has been supported by several prominent figures in the Conservative Party, including ex PM Liz Truss, who warned the Bill restricts people’s freedom and is evidence of a ‘Nanny state’ mindset in government.

A Watford local named Terry gave a tentative thumbs up to the plans but highlighted what he believes are logical holes in the governments approach.

Read more: How did my MP vote on the proposed smoking ban bill?

“There’s some sense behind the law but age isn’t going to matter," he said. "How can you have a situation where some adults can, and some adults can’t buy cigarettes? We’re all equal at the end of the day.

"People will keep smoking anyway because society will still have that demand for it. It doesn't make sense that you can have a 27-year-old who is able to smoke and a 26-year-old can’t.”

Despite this, he said he would urge anyone he met now not to smoke, and wouldn't have started himself if the associated problems were known at the time.

The policy has been supported this week by a rare intervention from Sir Chris Whitty, who urged MPs to back the Bill and eliminate nicotine.

Watford Observer: Jamie told the Watford Observer he was unsure whether the plan would work.Jamie told the Watford Observer he was unsure whether the plan would work. (Image: NQ staff)

Security officer Jamie also supported it, but told the Watford Observer he was unsure how successful it would be.

He said: “We already tried changing the packaging and the advertising to discourage people from smoking and that hasn’t done anything. I think this is a good policy, but I’d also criminalise alcohol, which is just as harmful as smoking fags.”

There are also concerns about how the Bill will affect high street retailers who rely largely on the sale of cigarettes and vapes.

Watford Observer: Tech Experts in Watford High Street.Tech Experts in Watford High Street. (Image: NQ staff)

Moska, manager of Tech Experts off license in Watford High Street, said: “If people want cigarettes they’ll have cigarettes. You can’t stop it from happening.

"This law could hurt businesses and just create a black market where people buy cigarettes in the same way as drugs like cocaine.”