UK Health Sector: Prime Minister defends plan to ban smoking for younger generation

Britain’s government has proposed banning younger generations from ever buying cigarettes, a move that would give the country some of the world’s toughest smoking rules and hurt the sales of major tobacco firms.

If passed into law, the smoking age would rise by one year every year, potentially phasing out smoking among young people almost completely as soon as 2040, a briefing paper said.

“A 14-year-old today will never legally be sold a cigarette,” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told the Conservative Party conference, where he announced the plan.

Smoking costs Britain’s health services 17 billion pounds a year, he said, adding the government also needed to act on youth vaping.

According to the briefing paper, it would consult on restricting the flavours and descriptions of vapes and look at regulating vape packaging and presentation.

Campaign group Action on Smoking and Health welcomed Sunak’s plans, adding they could hasten the day when smoking was obsolete.

The tobacco industry criticised the proposals. The Tobacco Manufacturers Association said they were a “disproportionate attack” on adults’ rights and would fuel black market trade.

“The prohibition of legal products always has dangerous side effects and opens the door to criminal gangs to sell illegal products,” it said.

Imperial Brands (IMB.L), which makes Winston cigarettes and Golden Virginia rolling tobacco, also warned the ban threatened “unintended consequences”. Lucky Strike and Dunhill maker British American Tobacco (BATS.L) said the proposals would be difficult to enforce.

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Comfort Samuel

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