London, September 24, 2023 - British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is reportedly contemplating groundbreaking measures that would prevent the next generation from ever being able to purchase cigarettes, mirroring laws recently enacted in New Zealand, according to sources within the British government, as reported by The Guardian on Friday.
Sunak's proposed anti-smoking measures would resemble the legislation announced by New Zealand last year. This includes a ban on the sale of tobacco products to individuals born on or after January 1, 2009, effectively creating a generational divide in cigarette access.
A British government spokesperson, in response to Reuters, emphasized the government's commitment to reducing smoking rates, stating, "We want to encourage more people to quit and meet our ambition to be smoke-free by 2030, which is why we have already taken steps to reduce smoking rates." The spokesperson outlined several ongoing initiatives, such as providing free vape kits, implementing a voucher scheme to incentivize pregnant women to quit smoking, and exploring the possibility of mandatory cigarette pack inserts. However, they declined to provide further details or confirm the specifics mentioned in The Guardian report.
These potential policies are part of a new consumer-focused campaign led by Sunak's team, strategically launched in anticipation of the upcoming election next year. Sunak's government aims to address public health concerns and win favor with voters by taking strong action against smoking.
This development follows a series of measures aimed at curbing smoking and tobacco-related harm in the UK. In May, the British government announced plans to close a loophole that permitted retailers to distribute free samples of vaping products, with particular concern for children's exposure to e-cigarettes. Additionally, councils in England and Wales called on the government in July to ban the sale of single-use vape products by 2024, citing both environmental and health considerations.
As discussions continue within the British government, the prospect of a generational cigarette ban sparks debate among the public and policymakers about the effectiveness of such measures in achieving a smoke-free future and the potential implications for individual freedoms. The debate is expected to intensify as more details about Sunak's proposed anti-smoking measures emerge in the coming months.