In a groundbreaking announcement, Rishi Sunak has unveiled plans that aim to change the landscape of tobacco and vaping in the UK. Here’s what this could mean for the nation’s health and future generations.
A Gradual Increase in the Smoking Age
Sunak’s proposal isn’t just a one-off age restriction. Instead, it’s an annual increment: the smoking age will rise by one year, every year. The implications of this are profound. A 14-year-old today would never experience the legal purchase of a cigarette in their lifetime.
Speaking at a conference in Manchester, Sunak emphasized the gravity of the situation: “If we are to do the right thing for our kids, we must try and stop teenagers taking up cigarettes in the first place.” He went on to highlight the grim reality that without significant change, countless children will begin smoking in the near future, shortening their life expectancy.
A New Era for Vaping
It’s not just traditional tobacco smoking that’s under the scanner. Sunak has turned his attention to vaping too, noting the concerning statistic that one in five children now use e-cigarettes. “That is shocking and wrong,” he declared, stressing the need for immediate action before vaping becomes even more widespread among the youth.
To tackle this, there’s a proposed crackdown on various aspects of vaping, including the flavours, packaging, displays, and disposable vapes.
A Look at the Numbers
While the number of smokers has been on a decline since the 1970s, there are still approximately 6.4 million smokers in the UK, as per the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Sunak’s proposal echoes efforts from other nations, such as New Zealand. In a strategy reminiscent of New Zealand’s, no individual born after January 1, 2009, will be able to purchase tobacco legally in the country.
Sunak’s vision, inspired by similar international measures, is clear: he envisions a UK free from smoking within the next 70 years.
Rishi Sunak’s ambitious proposals have the potential to redefine the UK’s relationship with tobacco and vaping. With the promise of a ‘free’ vote in Parliament, where MPs can vote based on their personal beliefs rather than party lines, the nation waits in anticipation to see how these proposed changes will shape the future.