Next generation of Brits could be banned from smoking under strict new measures
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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is reportedly considering rolling out one of the world's strongest anti-smoking measures.
The new policy would effectively mean a cigarette ban for the next generation of Brits - making it so that if the law is implemented by 2026, it would mean anyone aged 15 and under now would never be able to buy a cigarette.
The Guardian has reported that the change could see a gradual increase of smoking age to ultimately prevent sales to people born after certain year.
Such measures saw the steady increase of the legal smoking age so tobacco would end up never being sold to anyone born on or after 1 January 2009.
When asked about the policy of a New Zealand style-smoking ban, a government spokesperson said: "Smoking is a deadly habit – it kills tens of thousands of people each year and places a huge burden on the NHS and the economy.
"We want to encourage more people to quit and meet our ambition to be smoke-free by 2030, which is why we have already taken steps to reduce smoking rates.
"This includes providing one million smokers in England with free vape kits via our world-first 'swap to stop' scheme, launching a voucher scheme to incentivise pregnant women to quit, and consulting on mandatory cigarette pack inserts."
The legal age for buying cigarettes and other tobacco products in England and Wales is currently set at 18, after being raised from 16 back in 2007 by the previous Labour government.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking & Health (Ash), explained: "Smoking is highly addictive and only one in three smokers quit before they die, taking on average 30 attempts before they succeed."
Arnott added: "If the Government is serious about making England smoke-free by 2030, it needs to reduce youth uptake as well as help adult smokers quit.
"Ash strongly supports raising the age of sale, it has worked well in the US and is popular with the public."
However, smokers-rights group Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco (Forest), said the policy change was anti-Conservative and would not stop people from smoking.
Director Simon Clark claimed a ban would 'will simply drive the sale of cigarettes underground and into the hands of criminal gangs'.
He added: "Treating adults like children by denying them the right to buy cigarettes legally would take the nanny state to another level.”
"Smoking rates have been falling for decades. The idea that any government would prioritise tackling smoking at a time when the country faces far more important challenges at home and abroad is frankly obscene."