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    Sunak’s smoking ban is ‘nuts’, says Johnson

    (Photo by Henry Nicholls-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

    Former prime minister Boris Johnson has attacked Rishi Sunak’s generational smoking ban, calling it “absolutely nuts” in a lament about the state of the Conservative party in Britain.

    Speaking at an event in Canada on Wednesday (10) night, Johnson said it was “mad” that the party of Winston Churchill was “banning cigars”.

    “We are, on the whole, in favour of freedom and it is that single Anglo-Saxon idea of freedom that I think unites conservatives, or should unite conservatives.

    “And when I look at some of the things that we are doing now, or that are being done in the name of conservatism, I think they are absolutely nuts.

    Johnson singled out the recent move of increasing the minimum age for buying tobacco every year in an effort to phase out smoking. The proposed generational ban formed a major part of Sunak’s speech to the Conservative Party Conference last year.

     “When the party of Winston Churchill wants to ban cigars, donnez-moi un break as they say in Quebec, it’s just mad,” Johnson said.

    The government is passing legislation to end smoking by increasing the legal age to buy tobacco every year. Sunak announced the plan at the Conservative party conference last year and has presented it as part of his political legacy.

    Sunak’s flagship policy has faced criticism from the more libertarian wing of his party, and is expected to be the subject of a free vote when MPs debate the legislation for the first time on April 16. Given the government and the Labour party are in favour of the plan, Sunak could still face a rebellion from the right wing of his own backbenchers.

    Speaking ahead of the introduction of the Bill last month, Mr Sunak said: “If we want to build a better future for our children we need to tackle the single biggest entirely preventable cause of ill-health, disability and death: smoking.”

    The law proposed by the Prime Minister would prevent anyone who is turning 15 this year, or younger, from ever being able to legally buy tobacco products.

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