No Brit born after 2009 will ever be able to smoke legally, if bill passes

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No Brit born after 2009 will ever be able to smoke legally, if bill passes

Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hopes to pass a youth smoking ban along in a show of bipartisanship. Fellow members of his conservative party, however, are not supportive of what they deem an overreach by government into the lives of everyday Brits.


British lawmakers will on April 16 debate and vote on the government’s plans to introduce a landmark smoking ban that aims to stop young people from ever smoking.

The bill, a key policy announced by Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last year, will make it illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone born after January 1, 2009. It has the support of the opposition Labour Party and is expected to pass. But Mr. Sunak faces rebellion from more libertarian-minded members of his party, who criticized the proposals as “unconservative.”

Mr. Sunak’s plan to impose some of the world’s strictest anti-smoking rules has angered some members of his governing Conservative Party including former prime minister Liz Truss, who say the state should not interfere in how people live their lives, reported Reuters. Last week former Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the plans “absolutely nuts.”

“I think that an outright ban risks being counterproductive, I think it actually risks making smoking cooler, it certainly risks creating a black market,” Conservative lawmaker Simon Clarke told the BBC.

A large Conservative rebellion would be another blow for Mr. Sunak, who has already faced criticism in his party over issues ranging from climate change to defense policy.

Opponents, such as the smokers’ rights lobbying group FOREST, said the move will “treat future generations of adults like kids.” 

The legislation is one of Mr. Sunak’s flagship policies before an election later this year which opinion polls suggest the opposition Labour Party will win. 

Lawmakers will be given a so-called free vote on the bill, meaning they do not have to vote along party lines, reports Reuters. Mr. Sunak has said it will tackle “the single biggest entirely preventable cause of ill-health, disability, and death.”

Despite some opposition, the bill is expected to comfortably clear its first hurdle in the House of Commons when lawmakers vote on it later April 16. If it is approved, the bill will progress to the next stage in parliament, reports Reuters.

Authorities say that if passed, the bill will create modern Britain’s “first smoke-free generation.” 

There is strong support for the move from medical and healthcare experts and charities, who say smoking causes 80,000 deaths every year plus many more smoking-related illnesses, reports Reuters.

Under the Tobacco and Vapes Bill, children turning 15 this year or younger will never be legally sold tobacco. The legal age of sale that people in England can buy cigarettes will be raised by one year, every year until it is eventually illegal for the whole population.

The bill also includes measures to crack down on youth vaping, such as banning the sale of cheap disposable vapes and limiting their flavors to prevent children from becoming addicted to nicotine.

It is currently illegal for anyone to sell cigarettes or tobacco products and vapes to people under 18 years old throughout the U.K.

The plans were believed to have been inspired by similar policies proposed by New Zealand under former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, but the country’s new coalition government repealed the bill earlier this year.

The government said that smoking won’t be criminalized, and the phased changes mean that anyone who can legally buy cigarettes now won’t be prevented from doing so in the future.

The number of people who smoke in the U.K. has declined by two-thirds since the 1970s, but some 6.4 million people in the country – or about 13% of the population – still smoke, according to official figures.

Authorities say smoking causes some 80,000 deaths a year in the U.K., and remains the No. 1 preventable cause of death, disability, and poor health.


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