Rishi Sunak Unveils Plan to Gradually Increase Legal Smoking Age

Rishi Sunak’s Ambitious Plan

In a significant announcement at the Conservative Party conference, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak revealed his plan to gradually increase the legal smoking age on an annual basis.

He described this initiative as the “biggest public health intervention in a generation.”

Annual Rise in Legal Smoking Age

Under this proposed legislation for England, Rishi Sunak aims to raise the legal age for purchasing tobacco each year, starting from 2009.

The primary goal of this plan is to deter young individuals from taking up smoking and prevent teenagers from starting this harmful habit.

A Pledge for a Smoke-Free Generation

One of the most striking aspects of this proposal is that, according to Mr. Sunak, “a 14-year-old today will never legally be sold a cigarette.”

This bold commitment underscores the government’s determination to create a smoke-free generation and reduce the prevalence of smoking-related health issues.

Addressing the Public Health Impact

Prime Minister Sunak emphasized the severity of the issue, stating that “Smoking is unequivocally the single biggest preventable cause of death, disability, and illness in our society.”

He highlighted that this measure would represent the most significant intervention in public health in a generation.

Balancing Individual Choice and Public Health

While there may be concerns about restricting individuals’ choices, Mr. Sunak asserted that “there is no safe level of smoking.”

This statement reflects the government’s stance on the urgent need to combat the devastating consequences of smoking.

Government’s Expectations

Downing Street anticipates that these plans will lead to a significant reduction in the number of smokers, potentially up to 1.7 million fewer people smoking by 2075.

However, a specific timeline for a parliamentary vote on this crackdown has not been announced.

Preventing Youth Smoking Initiation

In his speech, Prime Minister Sunak emphasized the critical importance of preventing teenagers from starting smoking.

Statistics show that the majority of smokers begin their habit at a young age, with four out of five smokers starting by the age of 20.

Addressing Vaping and Its Impact on Children

Additionally, Mr. Sunak expressed the need to “restrict the availability” of vaping products to children.

A forthcoming consultation will explore measures such as regulating vape flavors and descriptions targeted at children, controlling vape sale displays, regulating packaging, and limiting the sale of disposable vapes.

Expert Endorsement of the Initiative

Professor Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, voiced his support for the initiative, emphasizing the severe health consequences of smoking.

He highlighted the importance of preventing early-life addiction to cigarettes and assisting current smokers in quitting as essential steps to improve public health.

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