The government could raise the legal age for buying cigarettes to 21 as part of a plan to make the UK smoke-free by 2030, reports the Mirror.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid is reportedly set to launch the new smoke-free strategy with a focus on cutting down on smoking among young people.
At a glance: 5 key points
– Health officials have looked into the possibility of raising the legal age at which you can buy cigarettes from 18 to 21, as well as a ban on flavoured vape products
– The measures are being considered as part of a plan to see the number of smokers in the UK drop to 5 per cent or lower by 2030, with a raft of policies to be announced in the next few months
– Many experts believe that flavoured e-cigarettes and vapes lead to more children taking up smoking, however some argue that vapes are useful in helping smokers quit
– A source close to the health secretary told the Mirror that raising the purchasing age and a ban on flavoured vape products are “not measures that are under consideration”
– It is currently legal to buy tobacco from age 18, although it is legal to smoke from age 16. Police can confiscate tobacco from anyone under 16
What’s been said?
Speaking to the Mirror, chair of the all party parliamentary group on smoking, Mary Foy MP said: "Raising the sale of tobacco to those aged 21 would be very, very welcome news because we know that generally adults don't take up smoking, it's children and young people who start and unfortunately get hooked often for life.
"Studies show most adults regret ever starting in the first place."
"The evidence is not conclusive that vaping leads young people to start smoking and it is mostly confined to those who already smoke.
"Vaping might not be 100% safe but it is 95% less harmful than burning tobacco and v effective in helping smokers to quit. The tobacco industry's advertising model has always been targeted towards young ppl so I would imagine PHE would continue to monitor the trends and see how many are using the flavoured vapes and going on to becoming addicted to smoking."
Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth, said: "Smoking remains one of the biggest killers especially in those areas Tory ministers have promised to ‘level up’. We need a fully funded anti-smoking strategy.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: ‘Smoking cuts lives short and costs the NHS billions – we will publish a plan later this year to set out how we will help the country become smoke free by 2030.’