Britain Proposes Bold Move to Ban Cigarettes for Younger Generations

Britain Proposes Bold Move to Ban Cigarettes for Younger Generations

  • The UK government is proposing a radical plan to gradually raise the legal smoking age every year, potentially eliminating smoking among young people by 2040.
  • The tobacco industry expressed concerns about the proposal, while shares in major tobacco companies declined in response to the news.
  • If enacted, the UK would be the first European country to join New Zealand in banning smoking for future generations, setting a precedent that other nations may follow.

Oct.5:The British government has proposed a groundbreaking initiative to prohibit younger generations from purchasing cigarettes, setting the stage for one of the world’s most stringent anti-smoking regulations. This move is poised to significantly impact the tobacco industry’s sales.

If this proposal becomes law, the legal smoking age will incrementally increase by one year every year. This progressive approach could potentially eliminate smoking among young individuals almost entirely by the year 2040, as outlined in a briefing paper.

During a speech at the Conservative Party conference, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak revealed this plan, stating that “A 14-year-old today will never legally be sold a cigarette” Sunak emphasized the enormous cost of smoking on Britain’s healthcare services, estimated at a staggering £17 billion ($20.6 billion) annually. Additionally, he highlighted the need for government intervention in addressing youth vaping.

The government plans to conduct consultations on measures to restrict vape flavors and descriptions, as well as the regulation of vape packaging and presentation, according to the briefing paper.

Britain Proposes Bold Move to Ban Cigarettes for Younger Generations

Action on Smoking and Health, an advocacy group, welcomed Sunak’s proposals, suggesting that they could accelerate the path to making smoking obsolete. However, the tobacco industry expressed strong opposition, with the Tobacco Manufacturers Association labeling the proposals a “disproportionate attack” on adult rights and raising concerns about an increase in the black market trade of tobacco products.

Imperial Brands, the manufacturer of Winston cigarettes and Golden Virginia rolling tobacco, voiced concerns about potential unintended consequences of the ban, while British American Tobacco, responsible for Lucky Strike and Dunhill, questioned the enforceability of the proposed measures.

To become law, this smoking policy would require approval through a free vote in the UK’s parliament, allowing lawmakers to vote independently rather than in accordance with party policies. If enacted, the UK would become the first European country to join New Zealand in prohibiting smoking for future generations.

Research suggests that raising the smoking age has effectively reduced smoking rates among young people globally. While the immediate impact on tobacco companies is expected to be limited, the long-term consequences could become significant, particularly given that individuals aged 18-25 constitute approximately 10% of the current adult smoking population in Britain.

The news had an immediate impact on the stock market, with shares in Imperial Brands declining by 3.2%, reaching their lowest point since March 2022. British American Tobacco, with a lesser reliance on the British cigarette market, also saw its shares drop by 1.2% as of 1357 GMT.

Additionally, there is a risk for all tobacco companies that other nations might follow suit. Denmark is already contemplating a similar move, and several countries have set targets to reduce smoking to minimal levels in the foreseeable future.

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Emily Johnson

Meet Emily Johnson, a rising star in the world of news reporting. Armed with a Communications degree from Harvard University, Emily's writing is a perfect blend of creativity and fact-based journalism. She specializes in human-interest stories, bringing the personal touch that makes every story relatable. Whether it's heartwarming tales or societal issues, Emily is your guide to the trending news you won't want to miss.


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