Home World The “Smoke-Free Generation” bill passed in the British House of Commons

The “Smoke-Free Generation” bill passed in the British House of Commons

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The “Smoke-Free Generation” bill passed in the British House of Commons

LONDON – Britain is preparing to launch a world-leading project to create a “smoking-free generation,” after the House of Commons passed a bill on Tuesday that would ban the sale of cigarettes to anyone born in 2009 or later.

For many years, anti-smoking health experts have relied on educational campaigns and high taxes to get rid of the habit. Now Britain is moving towards a ban that could mean the end of tobacco here – although crafty companies are scrambling to deliver nicotine via less harmful delivery systems.

Older smokers in Britain will be allowed to continue buying tobacco until they quit or die. But the legislation, which must go through a few more steps before becoming law, would raise the legal age to purchase each year, so that the ban on young people would last indefinitely.

Smoking itself will not be subject to fines. Only sales of those products, with fines imposed on retailers.

Vaping products would be excluded from the ban, but the legislation seeks to make vaping less attractive, by changing the packaging — from today’s candy-colored pastels — and by banning common disposable inhalers that can be found littering the nation’s sidewalks.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak – a neither drinker nor smoker, who reportedly fasts one day a week – has led the fight, claiming that smoking kills tens of thousands of people every year, with most smokers starting in their teens.

But while his landmark health legislation passed by 383 votes to 67, with the support of Labor lawmakers, it sparked a revolt within his Conservative Party and sparked debate about what the Conservatives should stand for in Britain.

Sunak’s predecessor, Liz Truss, the shortest-serving prime minister in British history, described the bill as an ill-advised act by a “nanny state”.

In the House of Commons on Tuesday, Truss called the ban “a symbol of a technocratic establishment in this country that wants to limit people’s freedom.” She denounced the “health police.”

The idea that the government should “protect adults from themselves is a huge problem,” Truss said.

As in most parts of the world, smoking rates have fallen in Britain (with an increase in vaping). But around 1 in 8 people in Britain still smoked in the past year, or about 6.4 million people. Smoking rates among teenagers remain high, with more than 12% of 16-17 year olds in England smoking.

Sunak’s legislation was inspired by New Zealand, which last year passed the world’s strongest tobacco control laws, which aim to ban tobacco sales to those born after January 1, 2009, as well as lower nicotine content and reduce the number of tobacco retailers.

Instead, the country’s new government announced in February that it would scrap the rules to help pay for the tax cuts — and because the ban, in its estimation, could create an illegal black market that would be difficult to control.

Sunak predicted defections in parliament and allowed a “free vote”, meaning Conservative lawmakers could vote and express their opinions against the government with impunity.

Business Minister Kemi Badenoch was the first Cabinet member to say she would vote against her boss. She said she objected To an approach where “people born one day apart have permanently different rights” puts the burden of implementation on private companies.

Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson – who has occupied himself with a newspaper column and speaking gigs since being pressured out of Parliament – pointed to the tobacco ban as a prime example of what is wrong with the Conservative Party he currently leads.

“When I look at some of the things that we’re doing now, or that are being done in the name of conservatism, I think they’re absolutely crazy,” he told a crowd in Canada last week.

“We’re banning cigars. What’s the point of a ban – Winston Churchill’s party wants to ban cigars! Donnez-moi un break, as they say in Quebec. It’s just madness,” he said, using one of his quasi-French phrases he was learning at school.

Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, who served under Johnson during the pandemic, said his old boss got it wrong.

“These people who say it’s all about choice completely misunderstand smoking,” he told ITV on Tuesday. He said that the tobacco industry knows better than that, and benefits from the fact that nicotine is highly addictive, and smokers find it very difficult to quit smoking.


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