Smoking: Rishi Sunak's plans to ban smoking praised by campaigners and charities

"We look forward to seeing his words turned into action," said one campaigner.
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The prime minister's proposal to outlaw cigarettes for the next generation has come as welcome news for campaign groups.

Earlier today (04 October) at the Conservative Party conference, Rishi Sunak announced plans to introduce a New Zealand-style ban on the sale of cigarettes. This means that each year the legal age at which cigarettes can be purchased will increase by a year, creating a generation of Brits who would be unable to purchase them.

The change is due to be implemented in 2027, with funding for local Stop Smoking services set to double next year.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced the proposals in his Conservative Party Conference speech, with the money spent elsewhere. (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced the proposals in his Conservative Party Conference speech, with the money spent elsewhere. (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced the proposals in his Conservative Party Conference speech, with the money spent elsewhere. (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

Sunak said: "Four in five smokers have started by the time they’re 20. Later, the vast majority are trying to quit, but many fail because they’re addicted and they wish they had never taken up the habit in the first place.”

The news has come to the delight of campaigners, charity workers and researchers, many of whom have been pushing for decades for cigarettes to be banned in the UK.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of health charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), said: "The prime minister has today announced an unprecedented set of measures to protect the next generation and hasten the day when smoking is obsolete. Children are four times as likely to start smoking if they grow up with smokers, and once they do it’s highly addictive and difficult to quit.

"The twin track approach of raising the age of sale and tougher enforcement to stop young people starting, matched by substantial additional funding to motivate addicted smokers to quit and provide them with the support they need to succeed, will help get us on track to a smokefree future.

"We look forward to the day when smoking is no longer responsible for avoidable ill health and perinatal mortality in babies and young children, nor the leading cause of premature death in adults.”

The charity "would not support" similar measures for disposable vapes, stating that they are an "important" aid for people trying to quit smoking. However, their stance on youth vaping is that further action is still needed.

The legal age for buying cigarettes and other tobacco products in England and Wales is currently 18. It was raised from 16 in 2007 by the previous Labour Party government.

Bob Blackman CBE MP, chairman of the APPG on smoking, added: "We congratulate the prime minister for sending a clear message in his speech today that this government is determined to live up to its smokefree ambition.

The recommendations set out in the Khan independent review on smoking have been taken on board, and there will be immediate benefits to smokers, to the NHS, to social care and to public finances. We look forward to seeing his words turned into action, with commitments in the King’s speech in November to legislation in the forthcoming parliamentary session.”

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