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PM Rishi Sunak: Smoking should go out of fashion

UK authorities on Wednesday proposed tougher laws on the sale of tobacco products. Changes in the legislation will establish some of the toughest smoking rules and will cause a drop in sales of the largest tobacco companies.

If the law is passed, the smoking age, which is currently 18, will be raised by one year each year. This measure would make it possible for young people to stop smoking completely by 2040. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced the plan at the Conservative Party conference, where he claimed:

A 14-year-old today will never legally be sold a cigarette.

Smoking costs the British public health service £17bn (R400bn) a year, he said, adding that the government had to take action to tackle vaping among young people.

The briefing paper states that there will be consultations on restricting flavours and descriptions of vapes, as well as regulating the packaging and advertising of vapes.

The Action on Smoking and Health campaign welcomed Sunak’s plans, saying they could hasten the day when smoking goes out of fashion.

The tobacco industry has criticised the proposed initiative. The Tobacco Manufacturers Association said the proposals were a “disproportionate attack” on the rights of adults and would boost the black market trade. It said:

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

Imperial Brands, which makes Winston cigarettes and Golden Virginia tobacco, also warned that the ban threatened “unintended consequences”. British American Tobacco, which makes Lucky Strike and Dunhill cigarettes, said the proposals would be difficult to implement.

The proposal is part of a renewed global crackdown on tobacco and vaping. New Zealand last year passed a law, yet to take effect, prohibiting the sale of tobacco to those born after 2008. Australia unveiled plans to crack down on recreational vaping products, even those not containing nicotine. Hong Kong is considering imposing lifetime tobacco bans for future generations.

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