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Sunak’s ‘smoke-free generation’ bill opposed by Tories

United Kingdom statistics from 2022 reveal that 12.9 per cent of adults are smokers, constituting approximately 6.4 million individuals in the population.

Despite the opposition, the bill is likely to pass because it has support from the opposition parties and because Conservative MPs can vote freely on the bill. (Photo credit: Getty images)

By: Vibhuti Pathak

Prime minister Rishi Sunak was met with vehement opposition to his proposal aimed at effectively prohibiting smoking for individuals aged 15 and under, as a fresh bill was introduced for a vote in the House of Commons on Tuesday.

Sunak introduced the Tobacco and Vapes Bill to effectively ban the sale of tobacco to anyone born after January 1, 2009, which means someone who is currently 15 years old or younger would never legally be able to buy tobacco. The bill aims to create a ‘smoke-free generation’ and combat the harm caused by smoking, which is the leading preventable cause of death in the UK.

However, Sunak’s plan is facing opposition from some members of his Conservative party. They argue that the bill takes away personal choice and freedom, which they consider to be “un-Conservative.” Despite the opposition, the bill is likely to pass because it has support from the opposition parties and because Conservative MPs can vote freely on the bill.

The new law, if passed, would not criminalise smoking itself, but would focus on preventing young people from starting to smoke. It would also introduce new rules to regulate vaping, aiming to make it less attractive to young people.

 

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Smoking is a major health risk and costs the UK’s healthcare system and economy billions of pounds each year. By limiting access to tobacco, the government hopes to save lives and reduce these costs over time.

Smoking stands as the leading cause of preventable, premature death on a global scale. Annually, it claims the lives of 8 million individuals worldwide, with up to half of its users succumbing to its harmful effects.

Shockingly, over 7 million of these deaths are directly attributed to tobacco use, while approximately 1.2 million result from non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke. It’s noteworthy that around 80 per cent of the planet’s 1.3 billion smokers reside in low- and middle-income countries.

Turning focus to the United Kingdom, statistics from 2022 reveal that 12.9 per cent of adults are smokers, constituting approximately 6.4 million individuals in the population. The breakdown by country indicates varying prevalence rates: England at 12.7 per cent, Wales at 14.1 per cent, Scotland at 13.9 per cent, and Northern Ireland at 14.0 per cent.

A notable trend since 2011 showcases the most substantial decline in smoking prevalence among 18- to 34-year-olds. However, the age bracket of 25 to 34 years retains the highest proportion of current smokers, standing at 16.3 per cent or roughly 1.4 million people.

The UK’s Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) acknowledges that vaping can be beneficial for adult smokers trying to quit smoking. However, the department emphasises that non-smokers and children should avoid vaping altogether.

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