By Sarah Atherton

MP for Wrexham

Last week, the House of Commons voted on the Prime Minister’s plan to make it illegal for anyone born in 2009 or later to buy tobacco products in the UK. The legislation would effectively ban smoking for future generations by raising the legal age every year.

I am not a smoker, but I have family members who smoke and vape. We all know that smoking is damaging for our health. However, it is the duty of Government to educate and inform, not to enforce or limit choice. Although I would support further focus being placed on health promotion and deterrence, banning smoking will result in unintended consequences. People should be given the tools to take personal responsibility for their lifestyle choices.

Beyond this, we have learnt from many examples throughout history that banning something rarely leads to the desired aim, but instead, it opens up an unregulated black market which is susceptible to exploitation. It can be the Government’s duty to educate and inform our citizens about healthy lifestyle choices, but never to impinge on them, damaging responsibility, and personal freedom in the process. Ultimately, the Government should support people in their lives, not limit their lives.

Meanwhile, I was pleased to meet Iryna Nykorak, Chair of the Subcommittee on Veteran Rehabilitation of the Ukrainian Parliament, to discuss her efforts in driving gender-oriented reform within the Ukrainian military. Our conversation shed light on the parallels between the Defence Committee’s report ‘Protecting Those Who Protect Us: Women in the Armed Forces From Recruitment to Civilian Life’ and the initiatives she’s championing in Ukraine, particularly regarding female-specific body armour and boots.

The dedication and courage displayed by the 60,000 Ukrainian women currently serving on the front lines is truly inspiring and exemplifies the limitless capabilities of women in the military. As we reflect on over two years since Russia's illegal invasion, it's crucial to reaffirm our unwavering support for Ukraine. The UK's leading role in this support is a source of pride, and I eagerly anticipate our continued collaboration with Iryna in driving positive change for women in Ukraine’s military. You can read the Defence Committee's report by clicking on the ‘In Parliament’ section on my website:

In addition, the Defence Committee had an excellent visit to RAF High Wycombe last week to learn about the UK's advancements with the Space Domaine looking at the threats, operations, and working with our allies.

The RAF is, like the other services, facing challenges with recruitment and retention so it was interesting to hear about their ‘people’ plans and live monitoring of Joint and National Air & Space Operations. Admittedly, it wouldn't be a Defence Committee trip without the conversation steering towards military funding, readiness, and capabilities, which is especially topical given the current actions in the Middle East. To see pictures from our visit, click on the news story on the website homepage.

Lastly, if you were not already aware, I have launched a petition in order to send a strong message on behalf of the women of Wrexham to save Wrexham’s Metastatic Cancer Nurse, and I urge you to join me in this fight.

As a former nurse, I know first-hand the crucial role Metastatic Cancer Nurses play in providing support and guidance to patients and their families battling cancer. It’s alarming to hear of the potential cut to the position in Wrexham, especially when only 52.9% of patients are starting treatment within two months of a diagnosis, well below the Welsh Government's 75% target.

It's worrying that despite receiving £18billion a year from the UK Government to run Wales, the Welsh Government continues to waste money on vanity projects. What residents need is a government that prioritises funding our NHS health over unnecessary expenditures such as £34million on the 20mph speed limit, £120million on more Senedd members, and handing £19,200 per year to illegal migrants coming to Wales.

Let’s demand better and ensure Wrexham's cancer patients get the care they need and deserve. Please share this with your family and friends today and sign the petition by heading over to my website home page and clicking on ‘Save Wrexham’s Metastatic Cancer Nurse’.

If you are a resident in the current Wrexham constituency boundary and need my assistance with any local or national issues, please contact me on: