Kirsty Wigglesworth Archives Associated Press Public health experts have welcomed the Prime Minister's plan to gradually raise the legal age for smoking, developing a “tobacco-free generation”.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Wednesday proposed raising the legal age at which English people can buy cigarettes by one year each year until the practice becomes illegal for the entire population. and that smoking will, he hopes, be gradually eliminated among young people.
Unveiling his plan at the Conservative Party's annual conference, Mr Sunak said he wanted to “stop teenagers starting to smoke” and reiterated that the annual increase in the legal sales age would mean “a 14-year-old years old today will never be legally sold a cigarette.”
It is currently illegal to sell cigarettes or tobacco products to people under the age of 18 in the UK.
Mr Sunak's office said the phased changes would prevent children turning 14 this year and those younger today from being legally sold cigarettes in England
If Parliament approves the proposal, the legal change will only apply in England, not Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
“People start smoking when they are youth. Four in five smokers started smoking before the age of 20, Mr Sunak said. If we could break this cycle, if we could stop smoking, we would be well on our way to ending the largest cause of preventable death and disease in our country. »
The government has said smoking will not be criminalized and the gradual changes mean anyone who can legally buy cigarettes today will not be prevented from doing so in the future.
The number The number of smokers in the UK has fallen by two thirds since the 1970s, but some 6.4 million people ― or around 13% of the population ― still smoke, according to official figures.
The British government raised the legal age for tobacco sales from 16 to 18 in 2007. The move helped reduce the prevalence of smoking among 16- and 17-year-olds by 30 percent, according to Sunak's office. .
Public health experts have welcomed the Prime Minister's plan to gradually increase the legal age for smoking. A similar measure was approved in New Zealand last year.
The Sunak government's plan to introduce 'tobacco-free generation' legislation could become its defining legacy, righting a century-old wrong, with tobacco products being the only legally available product which, if used as predicted, “will kill more than half of its users for life,” said Lion Shahab, an academic who co-leads the Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group at University College London.
Mr. Sunak also announced that his government would put in place measures to restrict children's access to e-cigarettes. It is currently illegal to sell vapes to children under 18 in the UK, but authorities say youth vaping has tripled in the past three years and more children are vaping today than ever before. they don't smoke.
Authorities will examine different options, including limiting flavored vaping products and regulating packaging and display in stores, to make products less attractive to young people .