Smoking age 'to go up by a year every year' under plan to abolish cigarettes

Cigarettes could be phased out from the market altogether by slowly increasing the age they can be bought.

A government commissioned review found the legal age of sale for tobacco products in England should be raised by one year every year until eventually no one can buy them. 

A similar policy, which will eventually totally ban the sale of cigarettes, has been adopted in New Zealand.

It would mean that, depending on when the new law was enacted, the age limit could be in the mid-20s by the end of the decade.

The report proposes an immediate 30% hike in duties on products, increasing tax on rollies so they are no longer a ‘cheap’ alternative and banning the sale of all tobacco at duty free in airports.

It’s unclear if the government intends to adopt the proposal as official policy but will be expected to respond in due course.

Dr Javed Khan was tasked with drawing up proposals to make smoking ‘obsolete’ by 2030, meaning no more than 5% of people smoke by then.

In the conclusion to his report, he says: ‘The government now has the opportunity to make our country a place where cigarettes disappear from our shops…[and] where the tobacco industry won’t want to trade.’

Promoting vaping is also among its four ‘critical’ recommendations, calling it an ‘effective tool to help people to quit’, while conceding it is not a ‘silver bullet’ or ‘totally risk-free’.

The reports also advocates for higher taxes on the tobacco industry to pay for investment in helping people to quit and expanding the offer of prevention tools to every point of contact in the health service.

Dr Khan compared the proposals to the 2007 indoor smoking ban, writing: ‘While there was much opposition at the time, we would never go back now.

‘It has changed social norms. We now need to go further.’

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