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Britain’s Anticipated Smoking Ban: Do Britishers Say Goodbye to Cigarettes Forever?

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British lawmakers are set to debate and vote on a significant smoking ban on Tuesday, which aims to stop young people from ever smoking.

The bill, a key policy announced by Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last year, intends to create modern Britain’s “first smoke-free generation” by making it illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone born after January 1, 2009.

Key Features of the Bill

Under the Tobacco and Vapes Bill, the legal age for purchasing cigarettes in England will increase by one year each year, until it is eventually illegal for the whole population to buy tobacco products.

The bill includes measures to prevent youth vaping, such as banning the sale of cheap disposable vapes and limiting flavours to discourage children from becoming addicted to nicotine.

It is already illegal to sell cigarettes, tobacco products, and vapes to anyone under 18 throughout the U.K.

Support and Opposition

The bill has the support of the opposition Labour Party and is expected to pass. However, Prime Minister Sunak faces some rebellion from libertarian-minded members of his party, who criticized the proposals as “unconservative.”

Opponents, including the smokers’ rights lobbying group FOREST, argued that the ban will treat future generations of adults like children.

Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the plans “absolutely nuts,” while Conservative lawmaker Simon Clarke told the BBC that an outright ban risks being counterproductive, making smoking seem “cooler” and potentially creating a black market.

Expected Outcomes and Comparisons

Despite opposition from some quarters, the bill is expected to pass its first hurdle in the House of Commons during Tuesday’s vote.

The plans were inspired by similar policies proposed by New Zealand under former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, although the country’s new coalition government repealed the bill earlier this year.

The U.K. government emphasizes that smoking will not be criminalized, and the phased changes mean that those who can legally buy cigarettes now will not be prevented from doing so in the future.

The number of smokers in the U.K. has significantly declined since the 1970s, but around 6.4 million people, or 13% of the population, still smoke, according to official figures.

Authorities attribute some 80,000 deaths a year in the U.K. to smoking, which remains the number one preventable cause of death, disability, and poor health.

Image credits: Wallpaper Flare

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