Advertisement

Majority back plans to crack down on smoking

The majority of English adults back Government plans to phase out smoking, a new poll suggests.

Proposed legislation for England will make it an offence for anyone born on or after January 1, 2009, to be sold tobacco products.

Two thirds (67%) of adults in England back the plans, according to a poll of 3,500 English adults.

Some 14% said that they oppose the measure, according to the survey, conducted by YouGov on behalf of the charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH).

The policy was backed by 74% of those who intend to vote Conservative at the next election, 72% of those intending to vote Labour, and 65% of those intending to vote for the Liberal Democrats.

“This is not a party political issue in the UK, successive governments, backed by strong public and parliamentary support, have passed increasingly stringent tobacco regulations aimed at bringing the smoking epidemic to an end,” said ASH chief executive Deborah Arnott.

“The passing of the smokefree generation legislation promised in the King’s speech, backed by increased investment to help adult smokers quit, can put us in pole position to achieve a smokefree future.”

Commenting on the poll, Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ group Forest, said: “Banning the sale of tobacco to future generations of adults won’t stop young people smoking.

“It will simply drive them into the arms of illegal traders and criminal gangs.

“If you’re old enough at 18 to vote, drive a car, join the army, and purchase alcohol, you’re old enough to buy tobacco.”

The results of the survey were released with a week left on the Government consultation for its proposals.

It comes after Downing Street has said the Prime Minister’s crackdown on cigarettes remains “unchanged” after reports New Zealand will rescind its own anti-smoking laws.

Rishi Sunak’s announcement at the Conservative Party conference last month that he would effectively outlaw smoking among younger generations, was seen as having been inspired by former New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern’s government doing something similar.

But reports have suggested that the new coalition government in Wellington will repeal legislation banning tobacco sales to people born after 2008.

The legal age for buying cigarettes and other tobacco products in England and Wales is 18, having been raised from 16 in 2007 by the previous Labour government.

A Government-commissioned report published in June 2022 found that, without urgent action, England would miss its 2030 smoke-free target by at least seven years.

Dr Javed Khan, who conducted the inquiry, put the annual cost to society of smoking at about £17 billion – £2.4 billion to the NHS alone.