UK Prime Minister Defends ‘Nanny State’ Anti-Smoking Plans as Liz Truss Joins Growing Criticism

Sunak Defends Tobacco Ban Amid Growing Criticism

Rishi Sunak, the UK Prime Minister, remains defiant in the face of criticism over his ‘nanny state’ plans for a ‘rolling’ ban on cigarette purchases.

Sunak, visiting Darlington, emphasized the importance of caring for children’s health, countering backlash from critics like Liz Truss, the former PM.

Sunak defended the proposals, acknowledging potential disagreements while underscoring the long-term benefits in reducing smoking-related deaths and hospital admissions.

Controversial Proposals Prompt Tory Revolt

The proposed measures include raising the age limit for buying tobacco products, banning sales to those born on or after January 1, 2009.

This move has sparked a revolt among some Conservative MPs, although the government expects Labour’s backing, ensuring the proposal’s passage.

Sunak confirmed that the measures would be subject to a free vote, anticipating significant dissent within his own party.

Truss Criticizes “Nanny State” Approach

Liz Truss voiced her opposition, cautioning against extending the ‘nanny state.’ Truss argued for adults’ autonomy in making personal choices in a free society, expressing concerns about creating rights disparities based on birthdates.

Her remarks add to the challenges faced by Sunak, who is already dealing with internal dissent over the Rwanda deportation plan.

Broader Crackdown on Nicotine Products

Sunak’s anti-smoking initiative extends to a broader crackdown on nicotine product use by children, including a ban on disposable vapes in the UK.

Using powers under the Environmental Protection Act, the government plans to implement these restrictions by late 2024 or early 2025.

Additional measures involve restricting flavors marketed to children, introducing plainer packaging, and imposing ‘on the spot’ fines for illegal vape sales to minors.

Sunak Addresses Vaping Trends Among Children

Highlighting the alarming rise in vaping among children, Sunak emphasized the need for action before it becomes endemic.

The proposed changes aim to strike a balance, recognizing the value of vaping for smoking cessation while condemning its marketing to children.

Sunak asserted his commitment to protecting children’s health in the long term, alongside the proposed cigarette ban.

Labour’s Response and Political Dynamics

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting expressed determination to push through these health measures despite potential resistance from Conservative backbenchers.

Labour aims to ensure the implementation of crucial health measures, framing Sunak’s stance as a sign of weakness.

The broader political dynamics reveal challenges for Sunak in managing dissent within his party while pursuing health-focused policies.

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