At the recent Party Conference in Manchester, the Prime Minister announced plans to create the first ‘smokefree generation’, by gradually increasing the age at which it is legal to buy tobacco.
Proposed new legislation will make it an offence for anyone born on or after 1 January 2009 to be sold tobacco products – effectively raising the smoking age by a year each year until it applies to the whole population. This has the potential to phase out smoking in young people almost completely as early as 2040.
Smoking is highly addictive, with 4 in 5 smokers starting before the age of 20 and remaining addicted for the rest of their lives. By stopping young people from ever starting to smoke, we will protect an entire generation of young people from the harms of smoking as they grow older.
Smoking is the UK’s biggest preventable killer – causing around 1 in 4 cancer deaths and leading to 64,000 deaths per year in England. It puts huge pressure on the NHS, with almost one hospital admission every minute attributable to smoking and up to 75,000 GP appointments each month taken up by smoking-related illness.
Smoking costs the economy £17 billion a year, through smoking related lost earnings, unemployment, early deaths and costs to the NHS. More broadly it is expected to mean up to 1.7 million fewer people smoke by 2075 – saving tens of thousands of lives, saving the health and care system billions of pounds and boosting the economy by up to £85 billion by 2075. It would also avoid up to 115,000 cases of strokes, heart disease, lung cancer and other lung diseases.
Smoking will not be criminalised, and the phased approach means anyone who can legally buy cigarettes now will not be prevented from doing so in future.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:
No parent ever wants their child to start smoking. It is a deadly habit – killing tens of thousands of people and costing our NHS billions each year, while also being hugely detrimental to our productivity as a country.
I want to build a better and brighter future for our children, so that’s why I want to stamp out smoking for good. These changes will mean our kids will never be able to buy a cigarette, preventing them getting hooked and protecting their health both now and in the future.
Many people, including teachers in our local school, have been in touch with me with concerns about the increase in the number of young people smoking and vaping. I'm really pleased that the Prime Minister has listened and is taking action in this area. We are looking at a range of measures, including flavoured capes, marketing at children, and the use of disposable vapes.
We are now asking people to contribute their views to the formal consultation on the following things:
- Creating a smokefree generation
- Tackling youth vaping
- Enforcement of these new laws
we want to hear from everyone who might be affected:
- the public - from young people, parents, carers and teachers
- the retail sector and the independent vaping industry
- local authorities across the UK
- clinicians and medical professionals
- public health stakeholders and academic experts
- employers and trade unions
Please do contribute your views: https://consultations.dhsc.gov.uk/en/65201ed1f3410a69990d3081