The United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, on Wednesday, October 4, 2023, while in Manchester, told the party delegates that there was a remedy to creating a smoke-free generation by proposing raising the smoking age every year, a move that was welcomed by health charities.
“I propose that in the future we raise the smoking age by one year every year,” he said.
Sunak said that the proposed legislation would mean that currently, a 14-year-old would never legally be sold a cigarette, and that they and their generation could grow up smoke-free.
He, however, said that the changes would be subject to a free vote in parliament, as would the ban on smoking in public places and raising the smoking age to 18 years of age.
“There will be no government whip. It is a matter of conscience,” he said.
He advocated for putting the next generation first by controlling the smoking age.
“That means a 14-year-old today will never legally be sold a cigarette and that they and their generation can grow up smoke-free,” he said.
He explained that although there are those who try to quit, most of them fail because they are already addicted and wish that they had never taken up the habit in the first place.
“And if we could break that cycle, if we could stop the start, then we would be on our way to ending the biggest cause of preventable death and disease in our country,” Sunak narrated.
Cancer Research UK’s Chief Executive Michelle Mitchell said that raising the age of sale on tobacco products is a critical step on the road to creating the first ever smoke-free generation.
Smoking is the single biggest avoidable risk factor for cancer. Tobacco smoke is estimated to be responsible for nearly 2.5 million cancer deaths globally, representing 24.7% of all cancer-related deaths.