Source: Conservative Party

Rishi Sunak’s Conservative Party is currently trailing Labour in opinion polls by more than 20 percentage points

The Conservatives have pledged to stick with plans to restrict sales of vapes and tobacco and introduce a separate offence of assaulting retail workers if they form the next government.

The measures, which would have banned the sale of tobacco products to anyone born in or after 2009, and made disposable vapes illegal, were set to be debated in Parliament before Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called the July 4 general election.

Other commitments, contained in the party’s manifesto published today, include a promise to maintain the National Living Wage at two-thirds of median earnings, a figure forecasted to be around £13 per hour by the end of the Parliament.

The Conservatives have also said they will legislate to restrict advertising of products high in fat, salt, and sugar, items that are already subject to conditions in the way they are merchandised in larger stores.

The specific offence of assaulting a retail staff member is part of a series of anti-crime proposals contained in the manifesto, such as toughening sentences for knife crimes and investing in rehabilitative services such as drug treatment and education. Organisations representing the retail sector had been lobbying for the new assault law. There remains uncertainty over whether a Labour government would bring in the change.

A Conservative administration would also roll out the Pumpwatch scheme that requires retailers to display fuel price changes within 30 minutes, after legislation received Royal Assent just before the dissolution of Parliament on May 30, giving a new government the authority to enforce the measure.

Describing that development as “good news”, the RAC said it would, along with the introduction of an official price monitoring body, “give drivers fairer deals on the UK’s 8,300-plus forecourts”.

The Conservatives are currently trailing Labour in opinion polls by more than 20 percentage points, and face strong challenges from both the Liberal Democrats and Nigel Farage’s Reform in many Tory-held seats, leaving Sunak with a mountain to climb to continue in Number 10 on July 5.