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Rishi Sunak announces plans to reduce smoking among teenagers 

Strategies to phase out the sale of cigarettes in England will be the "biggest public health intervention in a generation," Rishi Sunak says.

Strategies to phase out the sale of cigarettes in England will be the “biggest public health intervention in a generation,” Rishi Sunak says.

Introduction

In a significant move to combat smoking-related health issues, the UK Prime Minister has unveiled a plan aimed at gradually increasing the legal age for purchasing tobacco. 

The policy, which has garnered support from the Labour Party and offers a free vote for Tory MPs, is designed to address the severe health risks associated with smoking, despite concerns about potential black market consequences and revenue implications for the tobacco industry.

“No Safe Level of Smoking”

Prime Minister’s Statement

The Prime Minister emphasized the detrimental health effects of smoking, stating unequivocally that there is “no safe level of smoking.” This declaration underscores the urgency of the government’s anti-smoking initiative.

Incremental Age Increase

Under the proposed plan, the legal age for purchasing tobacco will be raised annually by one year. The gradual approach is intended to phase out tobacco sales entirely over time, a bold step towards achieving a smoke-free society.

Political Support and Opposition

Tory MPs to Decide

Conservative MPs will have the freedom to vote according to their individual stances on the policy. Meanwhile, the Labour Party has signaled its support for the initiative. However, concerns have been raised about the potential emergence of a black market for tobacco products.

Economic Implications

Tax Revenue Impact

The tobacco industry’s contribution to tax revenue is substantial, exceeding £10 billion last year, albeit with a 3% decline from the previous fiscal year. The policy’s potential impact on revenue generation and the economy is a point of contention.

Tackling Preventable Ill-Health

Chancellor’s Keynote Address

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the policy during his keynote address at the Conservative Party Conference, framing it as a crucial step in addressing the leading cause of preventable ill-health in the country.

Conclusion

The UK government’s plan to incrementally raise the legal age for purchasing tobacco products represents a bold and proactive approach to reducing smoking-related health risks. 

While garnering political support, concerns about potential black markets and revenue implications underscore the complexity of this anti-tobacco initiative. Nevertheless, the government’s commitment to tackling preventable ill-health through this policy remains a central objective.

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