The sales of cigarettes to teenagers could be banned in Britain by 2030 after recommendations by an All Party Parliamentary Group.
After earlier warnings by Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty that the “tobacco epidemic” could likely kill more people this year than COVID-19, the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Smoking and Health has urged the UK government to commit to the actions needed to ensure the country is smoke-free by the end of the decade.
This includes raising the legal age of cigarette purchase from 18 to 21.
Under the proposals, tobacco companies would be subject to a “polluter pays” law amendment to prevent children and young people from taking up the habit, and to help smokers quit.
While the UK government has committed to achieving a smoke-free society by 2030 – which would mean that fewer than 5% of the adult population smokes – the cross-party group of MPs and peers said it must now commit to stronger actions that are needed to secure its vision.
Bob Blackman – Chairman of the APPG – said: “Our report sets out measures which will put us on track to achieve the government’s ambition to end smoking by 2030, but they can’t be delivered without funding.
“Tobacco manufacturers make extreme profits selling highly addictive, lethal products, while government coffers are bare because of COVID-19.
“The manufacturers have the money, they should be made to pay to end the epidemic.”
As well as raising the legal cigarette purchase age, the APPG has also called for targeted investment in the regions and communities where smoking does the most damage to provide extra support that helps smokers quit.
The group said this would include people who are in routine and manual jobs, unemployed, living in social housing, or who have a mental health condition or are pregnant.
The APPG’s report suggests widespread public support for such recommendations, which have been backed by health charities and medical groups – with more than three quarters (76%) of the public backing the smoke-free 2030 ambition.
Some 77% of respondents also support the polluter pays levy, while 63% endorsing the increased age of cigarette sales from 18 to 21.
Manchester City Council is one of five local authorities in England to ban smoking in pavement pubs, cafes and restaurants as a contributor to the smoke-free 2030 plan.
Just days after it was revealed that Oxfordshire would be the first county in the UK to prohibit smoking at outdoor hospitality as part of a major strategy to make the county smoke-free by 2025, Manchester was joined by four other fellow Northern councils – North Tyneside, Durham, Newcastle and Northumberland – by including rules in their licensing agreements.
You can find more information about Smoke-Free 2030 here.