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Rishi Sunak proposes raising smoking age one year every year

Rishi Sunak proposes raising smoking age one year every year

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak used his Conservative Party Conference speech to propose new rules on smoking

Rishi Sunak has put forward his plans to raise the smoking age by a year for every year, meaning that a 14-year-old today will ‘never legally be sold a cigarette’.

Using his speech at the Conservative Party Conference, the Prime Minister claimed that smoking costs the UK £17 billion per year and is the single biggest avoidable problem facing the NHS.

So, he proposed the idea of raising the smoking age by a single year each year, essentially banning smoking for anyone who is not of legal age to smoke in the UK at the moment.

Sunak went on to explain why he was proposing the new legislation, which he promised would be subject to a ‘free’ vote in Parliament, allowing politicians to vote with their own preference, rather than be whipped into a certain vote by their party leadership.

"When we raised the smoking age to 18, smoking prevalence dropped by 30% in that age group,

"When the United States raised the age to 21, the smoking rate dropped by 39% in that age group. Smoking places huge pressures on the NHS and costs our country £17bn a year.

"We have a chance to cut cancer deaths by a quarter, significantly ease those pressures and protect our children, and we should take it."

Rishi Sunak announced the plans at the Conservative Party Conference.
Ian Forsyth/Getty

The PM also said that he wants to get tougher on ‘one of the most worrying trends – vaping amongst children’.

He told the conference: "We’ll also bring forward measures to restrict the availability of vapes to our children,

"Looking at flavours, packaging, displays and disposable vapes."

He claimed that stats show that one in five children has used vapes.

"That is shocking and wrong. And we must act before it becomes endemic," he said.

In a series of posts on X – formerly Twitter – following his speech, Sunak elaborated on the plans, writing: “In the UK smoking causes 1 in 4 cancer deaths.

“So I’m proposing changing the law so children turning 14 or younger this year can never legally be sold cigarettes in their lifetime.

“A smoke-free generation.

“None of us want our children to grow up to smoke.

“Smoking is the number one preventable cause of ill health causing 64,000 deaths a year in England."

Sunak also pledged to curb vaping amongst children.
Carl Court/Getty

“It puts a huge burden on the NHS, and costs the country £17 billion a year.

“We know more than four in five smokers start before the age of 20. We need to stop the start.

“Meanwhile as any parent or teacher knows the rise in vaping among children is a worrying trend.

“So we’ll also bring forward measures to restrict the availability of vapes to our children.

“We'll look at flavours, packaging, point-of-sale displays as well as disposable vapes.

“We will not criminalise smoking - nor will anyone who can legally be sold cigarettes today be prevented from doing so in the future.

“But we have a chance to cut cancer deaths by a quarter and significantly ease huge pressures on the NHS.

“We should take it.”

Featured Image Credit: Carl Court/Getty Images/Getty Stock Images

Topics: Rishi Sunak, Politics, UK News, Health