UK is looking to increase the legal age for smoking from 18 to 21 in order to promote ‘smoke-free generation’. The plans also include charging tobacco giants for the impact they have on society and use the money to fund stop-smoking initiatives.
The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) also believe that taxes should increase to prevent smoking being an affordable habit.
Its chairman and Conservative MP Bob Blackman told: “Smoking remains the leading cause of premature death and health inequalities.
“Ratcheting up tobacco regulation further and faster is essential to achieve the Government’s vision for prevention, to increase healthy life expectancy by five years by 2035 while reducing inequalities between the richest and poorest in society.”
The APPG said that while the commitment to finance stop-smoking services is welcome, treatment ‘is only part of the solution’.
In addition, the group said that the 2017 Tobacco Control Plan’s reliance on cash-strapped local authorities to help bring about a ‘smoke-free generation’ is ‘unrealistic’.
Mr Blackman continued: “Additional sources of funding and central government regulations are essential if declines in smoking prevalence are to be maintained and increased.”
Meanwhile, The British Lung Foundation has welcomed the move including that which forces tobacco firms to ‘pick up the bill for tackling the grave harm their industry is doing’.
Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, told: “A ‘polluter pays levy’ could raise at least £150 million. This money, which the highly profitable tobacco industry can easily afford, could fund cash-strapped stop-smoking services and discourage young people from ever lighting up.
“The recommendations will also protect children by funding enforcement against underage sales and help tackle the trade in illicit cigarettes.
“Raising the age of sale from 18 to 21 will help stop experimentation from becoming a fatal habit and reinforce the dangers of tobacco.
“The next step is for the Government to show its commitment to achieving a smoke-free generation by adopting the full list of recommendations and turn them all into law.”
Reports show that smoking is the single biggest avoidable risk factor for cancer. Smoking also results in mental health issues, apart from affecting fertility in both men and women.
Health benefits from stopping smoking begin just minutes after the last cigarette is smoked with the pulse returning to ‘normal’ just 20 minutes later.
Eight hours in and nicotine is reduced by 90 per cent with carbon monoxide levels in blood reducing by 75 per cent.