Apr 17, 2024 - Health

British youth smoking ban advances

Vaping in London

A smoker vapes in central London. Photo: Tolga Akmen/AFP

A pioneering tobacco ban aimed at creating Britain's "first smoke-free generation" cleared a key hurdle in Parliament on Tuesday over objections it would fuel a black market and snuff out personal choice.

Why it matters: The plan effectively makes it illegal to ever sell tobacco or vapes to anyone who turns 15 this year or younger. New Zealand approved a similar ban, but it was repealed by a new government there in February.

Catch up quick: UK Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made passage of the ban a legacy issue as his party faces a likely blowout in an election year.

  • Once it takes effect in 2027, no sales will be allowed to anyone born after Jan. 1, 2009, and the smoking age will rise by one each year.
  • The plan also takes aim at youth vaping, through steps like banning the sale of inexpensive, disposable vapes and limiting flavor options.
  • The legal age to buy tobacco products is currently 18.

Driving the news: The House of Commons voted 383-67 to advance the bill on Tuesday amid praise from public health officials and the opposition Labour Party, ABC News reported.

  • Prominent conservative voices, including Sunak's predecessors Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, said the plans went against conservative values by limiting people's personal freedoms, per ABC.
  • But supporters said the legislation won't outlaw smoking, and that anyone who can do so now can continue.

About 6.4 million British adults, or 13% of those 18 and older, smoke cigarettes β€” the lowest proportion of current smokers since records began in 2011, according to official estimates.

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