Britain unveils plan to eliminate smoking
The British government plans to completely phase out smoking in young people as early as 2040 and eventually eliminate the habit nationwide. The proposal, announced by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Wednesday, would make it illegal to sell tobacco products to people born on or after January 1, 2009, with the aim of creating the first “smoke-free generation.”
“Without a significant change, thousands of children will start smoking in the coming years and have their lives cut short as a result,” Sunak said in speech at the Tory conference in Manchester on Wednesday.
“I want to build a better and brighter future for our children, so that’s why I want to stamp out smoking for good,” the prime minister said, adding that the proposed measures would “mean our kids will never be able to buy a cigarette.”
Smoking is Britain’s “biggest preventable killer,” causing around one in four cancer deaths and leading to 64,000 deaths per year in England, according to the government. The government said the proposed measure would save “tens of thousands of lives,” slash healthcare costs, and boost the economy by up to £85 billion ($103 billion) by 2075.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay said the government will also tackle the popularity of vaping among children by restricting the flavors and other marketing tools that make the habit attractive to young people.
Sarah Woolnough, chief executive of the Asthma + Lung UK charity, welcomed the plan, calling it “the game changer” needed to prevent ailments caused by smoking.