Britons Born After 2008 Will (Probably) Never be Allowed to Buy Tobacco Again

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Will the UK have a smoke-free generation? A bill that will increase the minimum age for purchasing tobacco by one year every year from 2027 has already passed a vote in the British House of Commons.

 

The Foundation against Cancer is advocating a similar plan in our own country, but Wetstraat does not want to go along yet.

On Tuesday, there was a lot of buzz about the vote in the British House of Commons on the bill from British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak himself. The idea behind the law is relatively simple: from 2027, the minimum age at which tobacco products, such as cigarettes and vapes, can be sold will increase yearly by one year. Since that limit is still at 18 years, anyone born in or after 2009 can never buy tobacco in the United Kingdom. In this way, a smoke-free generation should emerge across the Channel over time.

Remarkably, mainly members of Sunak’s own Conservative Party voted against his proposal. Ex-prime minister Boris Johnson called it “absolute madness,” while another ex-prime minister, Liz Truss, feared that the “health police” would start to decide what people ate and drank. Even Sunak’s Secretary of State for Trade and Business, Kemi Badenoch, voted against it. Ultimately, 383 parliamentarians agreed to the proposal, more than the 67 who voted against it.

The first round of voting in the House of Commons has cleared a significant hurdle to make the proposal law. In the next phase, Parliament can further discuss and amend the plan, and the British House of Lords must also consider the matter.

Historical error
If the plan is finally approved, the United Kingdom, where smoking kills 80,000 people every year, will follow in the footsteps of New Zealand. A similar plan based on year of birth had also been approved there. Still, the new, conservative coalition scrapped it before it could be implemented because tobacco taxes proved too crucial for the state treasury.

“The British are sending a clear social signal that the free sale of tobacco is a historical mistake, dating from a time when the harmful effects of smoking were not yet well known.”

“That was a particularly cynical spectacle,” says Suzanne Gabriels, tobacco expert at the Foundation against Cancer, which would also like to see the British plan implemented in our country. “The idea of such a sales ban with an increasing age limit has been circulating for a few years, and internationally, it has been favourably received by all tobacco experts. It is, therefore, very interesting that the United Kingdom is taking steps towards this. They send a clear social signal that the free sale of tobacco is a historical mistake, dating from a time when the harmful effects of smoking were not yet well known.”

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