UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has unveiled plans to outlaw young people from ever buying cigarettes.
Under the proposal, the smoking age would be raised by one year, every year, until the ban applies to the entire population.
It would prevent anyone born after 1 January 2009 from ever legally purchasing tobacco products.
Current legislation states you must be over 18 to buy cigarettes in the UK.
The UK smoking ban
The idea to gradually raise the tobacco sale age came from a 2022 review of the UK’s smoking policies.
Other recommendations from the review included “radically rethinking” cigarette packaging, and increasing taxes to make tobacco products more expensive.
Sunak also announced a crackdown on youth vaping, with restrictions on vape flavours and packaging under consideration.
Smoking is the UK’s leading cause of preventable death, with 64,000 smoking-related deaths every year.
With four in five smokers starting before they turn 20, the UK Government wants to prevent young people from smoking to eliminate the possibility of addiction.
Sunak said he hopes smoking reforms will ease the strain on healthcare.
The legislation would come into effect in 2027, but needs to pass a ‘free vote’ in Parliament first — meaning politicians don’t have to vote with their party.
Is there a smoking ban in New Zealand?
A similar move has already been legislated in New Zealand and will come into effect in 2027.
Anyone born in, or after, 2009 will not be able to buy cigarettes in NZ. The number of retailers allowed to sell tobacco will also reduce.
The Australian Government hasn’t signalled any intention to introduce similar laws here.