‘First smoke-free generation’: Rishi Sunak’s anti-smoking bill passes first hurdle – ET HealthWorld

New Delhi: The British government‘s proposed smoking ban, which aims to prevent young people from ever smoking, passed its first hurdle in Parliament on Tuesday despite strong opposition from some members of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservative Party.

The bill revealed by Sunak last year, would forbid the sale of tobacco products to anyone who was born on or after January 1, 2009. The bill would give Britain some of the strictest anti-smoking laws in the world if it is approved. According to officials, it will produce the “first smoke-free generation” in Britain.

Following an afternoon of debate, lawmakers decided late on Tuesday to give the bill a second reading by a vote of 383 to 67. Even though the Labour Party opposed the bill and health specialists overwhelmingly supported it, Sunak was opposed by more libertarian-leaning members of his party who called the plans “unconservative.”

The plan also includes steps to curb teenage vaping, like limiting the flavors of cheap disposable vapes and outlawing their sale to stop kids from developing a nicotine addiction.

The move’s opponents, including the smokers’ rights advocacy group FOREST, claimed it will “treat future generations of adults like kids” and run the risk of spawning an underground market. Prominent Conservative Party figures, such as Lis Truss and Boris Johnson, two of Sunak’s predecessors, claimed that the measures violated conservative principles by restricting people’s personal liberties.

The government said that smoking won’t be criminalized, and the phased changes mean that anyone who can legally buy cigarettes now won’t be prevented from doing so in the future.

Although the number of smokers in the United Kingdom has decreased by two thirds since the 1970s, official statistics indicate that 6.4 million people, or roughly 13 per cent of the population, still smoke in the nation. According to authorities, smoking is the leading preventable cause of death, disability, and ill health in the UK, accounting for almost 80,000 deaths annually.

  • Published On Apr 17, 2024 at 12:17 PM IST

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