How the UK smoking ban will work and who will be affected | The Sun

SMOKING will be effectively banned in just a few years under new proposed legislation.

The UK will become ‘smoke-free’ by 2040, the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hopes.

It would bring the UK in line New Zealand, which was the first country in the world to bring in laws preventing the next generation from smoking. 

Eight per cent of the Kiwi population currently smoke, a historic low, while vaping has increased.

Meanwhile, around 12.9 per cent of UK adults smoke, and 8.7 per cent use an e-cig daily. 

What is the new smoking ban?

The Government hopes the crackdown will see 1.7 million fewer people smoking by 2075, against the current 6.4 million.



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In his speech at the 2023 Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that children currently under 14 will never be able to legally buy cigarettes in their lifetime.

Mr Sunak said: "We must tackle the single biggest entirely preventable cause of ill health, disability and death.

"And that is smoking, and our country. Smoking causes one in four cancer deaths."

Who will be affected by the smoking ban?

It will become illegal for anyone born on or after January 1, 2009, to be sold tobacco products.

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It suggests a 15-year-old – born on or before December 31, 2008 – will always be able to buy cigarettes, with the legal age to buy smoking products rising year-on-year with their age.

Existing smokers will avoid the ban, and continue to be encouraged by health chiefs to switch to vaping. 

But the PM also announced plans to outlaw vapes with packaging and flavours designed to appeal to youngsters.

Disposable vapes are also set to be banned in England to stop children getting addicted.

How will the smoking ban work?

Currently, the smoking age is 18, which was changed from 16 years in 2007.

Raising the legal smoking age every year was one of the key recommendations of a government-commissioned review into smoking.

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) previously laid out 12 steps to help the government achieve this target alongside those announced by Mr Sunak at the Conservative Party conference.

Mr Sunak promised MPs a "free vote" on his plans meaning they can oppose them without fear of being disciplined.

However, Downing Street has not said when a free vote will be held.

Significant health intervention

The Government has called the move the "most significant public health intervention in a generation".

It is hoped the move will prevent tens of thousands of deaths and save the NHS billions of pounds.

Smoking increases the risk of 50 health conditions, including heart attack, stroke, cancer, erectile dysfunction and miscarriage during pregnancy.

It kills 76,000 people per year – many of whom would have taken up the habit decades ago.

We look forward to the day when smoking is no longer responsible for avoidable ill health

The number of people who smoke in the UK has declined by two-thirds since the 1970s.

Mr Sunak insisted a ban was the “only way” to break the vicious cycle of kids taking up the habit and then struggling to quit as adults.

In his conference speech, Mr Sunak said: “People take up cigarettes when they are young.

"Four in five smokers have started by the time they are 20. Later, the vast majority try to quit.

"But many fail because they are addicted and they wish they had never taken up the habit in the first place.”

Cancer Research UK's chief executive Michelle Mitchell called it "a critical step on the road to creating the first ever smoke-free generation".

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, added: "We look forward to the day when smoking is no longer responsible for avoidable ill health and perinatal mortality in babies and young children, nor the leading cause of premature death in adults."

Sarah Woolnough, chief executive at Asthma and Lung UK, also hailed the "incredibly positive step forward" which she said "will protect the next generation from developing lung conditions caused by this deadly addiction".

But mokers' group Forest called the policy "creeping prohibition".

Director Simon Clark told BBC Breakfast on Thursday that he does not think the policy will work.

"Prohibition very, very rarely works," he added.

"We're infantilising the population, there's an important principle at stake here, which is freedom of choice and personal responsibility."

Some countries have already banned smoking outside cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants, including New Zealand.

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This was due to the rise in people eating and drinking outside during the coronavirus pandemic.

Smokers and non-smokers were forced to mix more while dining al fresco, something that wasn't appreciated by non-smokers.

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