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Rishi Sunak wants young Brits to stop smoking: 'A 14-year-old will never...'

Bloomberg |
Oct 04, 2023 06:06 PM IST

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak aims to gradually raise the legal age for consuming cigarettes in a move that would introduce a ban for the next generation.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak aims to gradually raise the legal age for consuming cigarettes in a move that would introduce a ban for the next generation."I propose that in future, we raise the smoking age by one year every year. That means a 14-year-old today will never legally be sold a cigarette, and that they and their generation can grow up smoke-free," Sunak said at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester on Wednesday.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.(Reuters)

The government is also looking into measures to restrict the availability of vapes and will look at the packaging and flavors of those products.

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Shares of Imperial Brands Plc, the biggest seller of cigarettes in the UK, fell 1.2% in London. British American Tobacco Plc, which gets most of its sales from markets outside Britain, was down 0.7%.

The measure would be one of the most aggressive anti-smoking policies in the world, though the UK wouldn’t be the first. New Zealand last year passed a law prohibiting the sale of cigarettes to anyone born after 2008.

As only a dwindling minority in many countries smoke, governments around the world are getting increasingly stricter. Tobacco companies are racing to offer alternatives with vapes, devices that heat tobacco and oral nicotine. The measure would help the UK toward its goal to become smoke-free by 2030.

The proportion of 18- to 24-year-olds who smoke rose to one in three from one in four during the Covid pandemic, according to a report commissioned for the government last year. The report also said smokers in the most economically deprived parts of the UK devote a disproportionate amount of their income to tobacco, with the average smoker in northeast England spending more than 10% of their income on smoking.

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