The Government has announced plans to ban sales of e-cigarettes to under 18s and to make it illegal for adults to buy tobacco for children.

Health minister Jane Ellison said the law change would be made by an amendment to the Children and Families Bill.

The changes will only apply to England. The governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are considering restrictions on e-cigarettes and in Scotland it as already illegal for adults to buy tobacco for children.

The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) welcomed the announcement saying it was a breakthrough for a long-running campaign by ACS to stamp out a loophole that undermines the fight to prevent young people from buying tobacco.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We have long argued that it is ludicrous that an adult can walk into a shop buy tobacco, and then walk round the corner and sell it on to a child without breaking the law.

“Ninety five per cent of young people that regularly smoke obtain tobacco in this way. This change in the law is an important step forward in reducing the exposure of young people to tobacco.

“We will now work with Government, police and trading standards to establish ways to make this change in the law enforceable and above all to challenge those unscrupulous adults that are willing to sell tobacco to children in this way.”

Lowman said the ACS supported the change to regulations on e-cigarettes as they would bring the law into line with the commonly accepted policy in the industry.

ACS has been briefing MPs and members of the House of the Lords in favour of a ban on proxy sales amendment to the Children and Families Bill over the past three months and has been calling for the ban to be introduced in response to a series of tobacco control policy reviews in the last 10 years.