MPs call for legal age to buy cigarettes to be raised to 21
More people died from smoking than coronavirus last year
According to sources, MPs are proposing to raise the legal age for buying cigarettes from 18 to 21, as the UK aims to be smoke-free by 2030. This comes after it was estimated that more people died from illnesses caused by smoking than COVID-19 in 2020.
The bill was drawn up by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health (ASH), who not only want to raise the legal smoking age but penalise tobacco companies through a ‘polluter pays’ law amendment, which aims to prevent children and young people from taking up the habit as well as helping smokers quit in general.
It is estimated that around 13.9% of adults smoke in the UK; the next goal is to get that number down to just five per cent in the coming years, hoping to virtually eliminate the habit altogether by 2030.
ASH is a cross-party group and those involved have now stressed that they need to commit to stronger action and regulation if they are to succeed in this endeavour.
Chairman Bob Blackman said: "Our report sets out measures which will put us on track to achieve the government’s ambition to end smoking by 2030, but they can’t be delivered without funding.
"Tobacco manufacturers make extreme profits selling highly addictive, lethal products, while government coffers are bare because of Covid-19. The manufacturers have the money, they should be made to pay to end the epidemic."
The group has called for targeted investment to provide extra support to help smokers stop in regions and communities where smoking does the most damage - this includes people who are in routine and manual jobs, pregnant women, unemployed; living in social housing, or who have a mental health condition.
Just last week, five local authorities banned smoking outside pubs, restaurants and cafes, in an effort to stem contact smoking in the outdoor dining and drinking culture brought about by coronavirus.