The SNP’s public health minister has insisted there is “strong support" to raise the smoking age in Scotland but has declined to commit to matching Rishi Sunak’s pledge to phase out young people legally being able to buy tobacco products.

During his keynote speech at Conservative Party conference, the Prime Minister said we would propose increasing the age people can buy cigarettes in England one year every year, matching the policy in New Zealand.

Speaking to delegates in Manchester, Mr Sunak said: “I propose that in future we raise the smoking age by one year, every year.

“That means a 14-year-old today will never legally be sold a cigarette, and that they and their generation can grow up smoke-free.

Read more: SNP under pressure to follow Rishi Sunak's vow to phase out smoking

“We know this works. When we raised the smoking age to 18, smoking prevalence dropped by 30% in that age group.”

Referring to smoking as the single biggest cause of preventable death in the UK, he added: “We have a chance to cut cancer deaths by a quarter, significantly ease those pressures, and protect our children, and we should take it."

The pledge heaps pressure on the Scottish Government, with the issue devolved to Holyrood, with SNP minister having vowed to turn Scotland into a tobacco-free country by 2034.

Read more: Analysis: UK no longer wants to be seen as 'Scotland's other government'

The Scottish Government is set to publish its updated tobacco action plan and could include such a policy.

Talks between the UK Government and devolved nations have taken place on evidence and shared work, including on a ban.

Scottish Public Health Minister, Jenni Minto, said: “Scotland has a range of world-leading tobacco control measures, and smoking rates are at an all-time low.

“We remain committed to a tobacco-free Scotland by 2034 – we know there is strong support to raise the age of sale of tobacco products in Scotland and that evidence is feeding into our refreshed Tobacco Action Plan which is due to be published later this year.

“Scotland was the first UK nation to commit to consulting on a proposed ban on single use vapes.

"Subsequently, ministers and senior officials from across the UK have discussed the available evidence, recognising shared challenges, and committing to work together on a range of options to tackle the impacts, up to, and including, a ban.

Read more: How will the proposed crackdown on smoking work?

“We will continue to work with the UK Government and other devolved administrations on joint approaches where appropriate.”

The Prime Minister has labelled his proposed smoking ban as the “biggest public health intervention in a generation”.

The proposed legislation for England will make it an offence for anyone born on or after January 1, 2009 to be sold tobacco products.

This has the potential to phase out smoking in young people almost completely as early as 2040.

Mr Sunak told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Smoking is unequivocally the single biggest preventable cause of death, disability and illness in our society.

“Everyone recognises this measure will be the single biggest intervention in public health in a generation.”

Asked about restricting people’s right to choose, Mr Sunak said there is “no safe level of smoking”.