MPs say under-21s should be banned from buying cigarettes in bid to end smoking by 2030
- All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health recommended raising age
- Part of tougher regulations to protect young people and helping smokers quit
- The recommendations are backed by health charities and medical organisations
MPs have called for a consultation over raising the age of sale of cigarettes from 18 to 21 in a bid to end the ‘tobacco epidemic’ by 2030.
The All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health has recommended raising the age as part of tougher UK regulations to protect young people from becoming smokers as well as helping smokers quit.
The recommendations, backed by health charities and medical organisations, also include a ‘polluter pays’ amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill to secure funding for a tobacco control programme, forcing manufacturers to pay to deliver the end of smoking.
MPs have called for a consultation over raising the age of sale of cigarettes from 18 to 21 in a bid to end the ‘tobacco epidemic’ by 2030 (stock image)
The cross-party group of MPs and peers has warned the Government that it can only build back ‘better and fairer’ from the pandemic by making smoking obsolete and must commit now to the actions needed to secure its vision of a Smokefree 2030.
The report notes that more people are likely to have died last year and this year from smoking than Covid-19.
It also calls for targeted investment to provide additional support to help smokers quit in regions and communities where smoking does the most damage.
This includes those who are in routine and manual jobs, unemployed, living in social housing, or who have a mental health condition or are pregnant.
The report suggests widespread public support for the recommendations with more than three quarters (76 per cent) of the public supporting the Government’s Smokefree 2030 ambition.
Some 77 per cent support making tobacco manufacturers pay a levy or licence fee to Government for measures to help smokers quit and prevent young people from taking up smoking – as 63 per cent support increasing the age of sale from 18 to 21.
The recommendations also include a ‘polluter pays’ amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill to secure funding for a tobacco control programme, forcing manufacturers to pay to deliver the end of smoking (stock image)
APPG chairman Bob Blackman 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.’
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH, said: ‘We all applauded when the Government announced its ambition for a Smokefree 2030. But that was two years ago, the time has now come to deliver.
‘Currently smoking rates are not declining nearly fast enough. If, as called for by the APPG, the recommendations in its report are implemented by 2022 we can get on track to make smoking obsolete by 2030.’
Alison Cook, director of external affairs at Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation, said: ‘Smoking still accounts for 35 per cent of all respiratory deaths in England each year and it is still the leading cause of preventable lung diseases such as lung cancer and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
‘We welcome the recommendations in this report, which include targeted support for people to successfully quit this deadly addiction.
‘If the Government is serious about reaching its own target of becoming smoke-free by 2030, it needs to do much more by urgently providing sustainable funding for the delivery of stop smoking services across the NHS and in the community, as a broad offer is highly effective in supporting people to quit.
‘Without action now, we will continue to see thousands of people die every year as a result of preventable lung diseases linked to smoking.’
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