The smoking age is to go up by a year every year, and new tougher rules on vaping will be introduced, prime minister Rishi Sunak announced today (4) while speaking at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester.
Smoking will be banned entirely for the generation now reaching their teens, under Sunak’s plans to phase out cigarettes as he has proposed new laws to raise the legal age of smoking by a year, every year.
Under the plan, the age of sale would rise from 18 by one year every year. This means that by 2040, only those above the age of 35 would be able to make such purchases legally.
“If we are to do the right thing for our kids we must try and stop teenagers taking up cigarettes in the first place,’ he said.
“Four in five smokers have started by the time 20, later the vast majority try to quit but fail because they are addicted.
“I propose we raise the smoking age by one year every year. That means a 14-year-old today will never legally be sold a cigarette meaning they and their generation will grow up smoke free,” he said to massive applause from the audience.
Announcing a crackdown on vaping amongst children, Sunak has promised to look at banning child-friendly flavours and packaging that encourage kids to pick up the habit. Disposable devices are also in the firing line.
The Prime Minister also outlined his concerns about the vaping category and the impact of disposable vapes, stating that he wants to “bring forward measures to restrict the availability of vapes to our children” in terms of flavours, packaging, displays and disposable vapes.
Sunak said the UK must act before vaping becomes endemic, as “one in five children” have used vapes. The proportion of 18- to 24-year-olds who smoke rose to one in three from one in four during the Covid pandemic, according to a report commissioned for the government last year.
Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has responded to the Prime Minister’s Conservative Party Conference speech, highlighting the convenience sector’s strong record on age restricted sales.
On tobacco legislation, ACS chief executive James Lowman said, “We will work with the Government on how this policy will be implemented and enforced. Our sector has a proud record on preventing under age purchases, and we will continue to provide the advice members need to comply with whatever age restriction policy parliament decides on.”
On vaping, Lowman said, “We welcome further consultation on vaping products and hope the government will look carefully at increasing funding for enforcement activity to prevent underage sales and stamp out the sale of illegal vapes.”
As part of its industry leading Assured Advice scheme, developed in partnership with Surrey and Buckinghamshire Trading Standards, ACS has comprehensive guidance available for retailers on the responsible sale of both tobacco and vaping products. ACS has also recently launched a campaign to help retailers communicate their responsibilities when it comes to the sale of vapes, as well as helping both retailers and customers identify fake and illicit product.