RISHI Sunak's proposal to ban young people from ever being able to legally smoke has received a mixed reaction in Somerset.

Some residents have supported the proposal, while others have criticised it, defending citizens’ rights for personal freedom.

The Prime Minister's ban cleared its first Commons hurdle on Tuesday night, although a swathe of Conservative MPs objected to it.

The Tobacco and Vapes Bill received a second reading after MPs voted 383 to 67, meaning it passed with a majority of 316 votes.

The legislation, considered a significant part of Rishi Sunak's long-term legacy, would make it illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone born after January 1, 2009.

The intention behind it is to create a "smoke-free" generation and reduce avoidable illnesses and deaths in the UK.

The Prime Minister’s spokesperson explained before the vote: "If we want to build a better future for our children, we need to tackle the single biggest entirely preventable cause of illness, disability, and death, which is smoking.

Bridgwater Mercury: The legislation is expected to form part of Rishi Sunak's long-term legacy.The legislation is expected to form part of Rishi Sunak's long-term legacy. (Image: Yui Mok/PA Wire)

"Smoking claims 80,000 lives a year, causes 70 per cent of lung cancer cases, it costs the nation nearly £17 billion a year through ill-health and sickness."

In Somerset, public reaction to the proposed legislation is split.

Responding to your County Gazette and Bridgwater Mercury newspapers, one reader said: "I don’t get why so many people are against this being passed, being an ex-smoker I wish this was brought in when I was younger".

A supporter added: "It will take one pressure away from the NHS with the amount of smokers with medical problems through smoking!"

Another resident said: "I think it's great personally, hate the smell, it makes clothes so dirty, the amount of litter it causes, it's going to make a nice clean crisp air."

However, not everyone is in agreement and feel the ban is a bad thing.

One resident claimed: "If you want to smoke you should be allowed, who is it to tell you can’t do something?"

Another argued: "This really is ridiculous, we all know smoking is bad for you, but so is alcohol, which I would say causes as many if not more health issues."

One objected: "All this looks to me is a stripping away at our right to decide in life."

The bill will progress to further legislative stages in the House of Commons, where it will be thoroughly scrutinised and potential amendments will be considered before it becomes law.

In the meantime, the proposal continues to attract heated debate and divergence of opinion across Somerset.