British PM Rishi Sunak plans to raise the legal age of buying cigarettes by one year every year to stop a whole generation from smoking; he is planning a free vote in Parliament amongst MPs.
Recognising that it’s hard to quit smoking once you have started, Sunak plans to ban sales of smoking products to anyone born after January 1st 2009. Today, that means no one age 15 or under could buy cigarettes or other smoking products. By 2028 it would mean no one age 20 or under could buy them. By 2040, it would mean no one under 32 could buy cigarettes.
His government will also look at restricting the flavours and descriptions of vapes so that they can no longer be targeted at children.
Currently, approximately one in eight adults in the UK smoke, that’s between 5 or 6 million, and numbers have been falling annually. The problem is that research shows two out of three of those people started smoking before the age of 18, and 80% before the age of 20.
Smoking is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and strokes. It is also a risk factor for cancers such as lung cancer and colorectal cancer. Smoking also damages the gut microbiome and reduces the strength of the immune system.
Other countries, for example Finland, are looking at similar laws to stop future generations ever starting the smoking habit.