Smoking age could be raised to 21 in 'radical' crackdown that may include tax hikes
The UK is committed to becoming smoke-free by 2030
MPs are currently debating new legislation that would see the legal smoking age raised to 21 - a review that could be announced as early as Thursday, according to reports.
We first heard about the new anti-smoking bill back in June 2021 following a statement from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health (ASH) but it was ultimately delayed due to apparent concerns over PR strategy and timings.
The bill set out plans to not only raise the smoking age but penalise tobacco companies through what they call the "polluter pays" levy - essentially aimed at discouraging younger people from taking up smoking and the habit in general.
Javed Khan, former chief executive of Barnardo’s and the man heading up the review, claims their decision will be released on Thursday after it was commissioned by the health secretary, Sajid Javid.
However, the UK government is said to be torn over the proposal due to further tax rises, including the impact it could have on tobacco duty directly, according to sources at The Guardian.
Nevertheless, Khan insists that the proposal is on track and denies the suggestion that there has been pushback from certain ministers, though specific individuals are yet to have been cited.
The likes of Chris Witty, Maggie Throup and other health ministers are expected to be in attendance for the review. One industry has labelled this early version of the proposal as “very radical”, while another inside Westminster maintained that the consensus among many is that "the view has always been... 18 is widely recognised as the age of adulthood”.
Cancer Research showed that smoking among those aged between 18 and 34 increased from 21.5 per cent to 26.8 per cent during lockdown and regional incentive campaigns have even been deployed in some parts of the country, with some local councils offering smokers £400 to quit.
The government hopes to make the UK smoke-free by 2030 but the number of smokers under 30 is said to have gone up by six million since the pandemic. Refusing to detail any of the specific findings, Khan said the Tories are determined to get the rate below five per cent in time for target.
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