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UK parliament to vote on banning 15-year-olds or younger from buying cigarettes

British lawmakers on Tuesday vote on moves by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to ban anyone aged 15 and under from ever buying cigarettes.

• April 16, 2024
students smoking weed
students smoking weed

British lawmakers on Tuesday vote on moves by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to ban anyone aged 15 and under from ever buying cigarettes.

Though expected to be approved, Mr Sunak’s plan to impose some of the world’s strictest anti-smoking rules has angered some of his governing Conservative Party members.

Some members include former Prime Ministers Liz Truss and Boris Johnson, who said the state should not interfere in how people live their lives.

Lawmakers will have a free vote on the bill, meaning they do not have to vote along party lines.

The new coalition government scrapped a similar law in New Zealand this year before the legislation went into force.

A large Conservative rebellion would be another blow for Mr Sunak, who has already faced criticism in his party over issues ranging from climate change to defence policy.

The legislation is one of Mr Sunak’s flagship policies before an election later this year, which opinion polls suggest the opposition Labour Party will win.

However, the Tobacco and Vapes Bill aims to prevent children born since 2009 from ever being able to buy tobacco rather than criminalising the habit legally.

Mr Sunak has said it would tackle “the single biggest entirely preventable cause of ill-health, disability and death.”

There is strong support for the move from medical and healthcare experts and charities, who say smoking causes 80,000 deaths every year, plus many more smoking-related illnesses.

But Conservative lawmaker Simon Clarke told BBC radio that a ban could be counterproductive.

“I think it actually risks making smoking cooler. It certainly risks creating a black market and it also risks creating an unmanageable challenge for the authorities,” Mr Clarke said.

In spite of such criticism, the legislation is widely expected to pass, with Labour suggesting it will support the measure.

If the bill is approved, it will progress to the next stage in parliament.


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