UK Parliament Debates Legislation to Phase Out Smoking

Tue Apr 16 2024
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LONDON: The UK parliament is poised to commence its inaugural debate on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s proposed legislation aimed at preventing young individuals from ever taking up smoking, despite encountering resistance from numerous members of his own Conservative Party.

The proposed law would prohibit the sale of tobacco products to individuals born after January 1, 2009, effectively increasing the smoking age annually until it encompasses the entire population.

“This has the potential to phase out smoking in young people almost completely as early as 2040,” the government stated upon unveiling the plan, describing the initiative as “historic”.

While the legislation appears likely to pass with support from opposition parties, Sunak is confronted with the possibility of a rebellion from backbench Conservative MPs.

Amidst challenges in reviving his party’s fortunes following prolonged periods of poor polling, Sunak faces resistance within his party. Conservative MP Simon Clarke expressed skepticism and opposition towards the plans, cautioning against potential counterproductive effects.

“I think that an outright ban risks being 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,” Clarke said in an interview with the BBC.

Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson also weighed in on the matter during an event in Canada last week, remarking that it was “mad” for the party of Winston Churchill to “ban cigars”.

Despite internal opposition, opinion polls indicate strong public support in the UK for a phased smoking ban, with approximately two-thirds of the population endorsing such measures.


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