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The UK will implement the world’s toughest anti-smoking laws

The UK will implement the world's toughest anti-smoking laws

The British government proposed a bill at a parliamentary session on March 20. It would ban children aged 15 or younger from purchasing tobacco and vapes this year. If passed without amendments, the Tobacco and Vapes Bill would become one of the strictest anti-smoking laws in the world.

The specific contents of the bill are as follows:

1. Create the first smoke-free generation by:

  • Phase out the sale of tobacco products by making it a crime to sell tobacco products to people born on or after January 1, 2009. This means tobacco and vape products will never be sold legally to anyone aged 15 or under by 2024.
  • Amend existing legislation to make it an offense for any person aged 18 or over to purchase tobacco products on behalf of a person born on or after 1 January 2009;
  • Require retailers to update their current age of sale notices (or warning statements). The new notice is “It is unlawful to sell tobacco products to anyone born on or after January 1, 2009.”

2. Reduce the attractiveness and usability of vape products:

  • The Minister gains regulatory powers, including taste, content, packaging and product presentation;
  • In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, it is illegal to sell nicotine-free vape products to people under the age of 18;
  • Ban the free distribution of vape products to under-18s in England and Wales. And, give Northern Ireland the power to enact a ban;
  • Extend the above measures to other nicotine products, such as nicotine pouches.

3. Strengthen law enforcement on the sale of tobacco and e-cigarettes to minors:

  • Law enforcement agencies in England and Wales can issue fixed penalty notices of £100 for minors selling tobacco and vaping products;
  • Existing penalties continue to apply, enabling Trading Standards to impose substantial fines on repeat offenders. And, impose restricted premises orders and restricted sales orders.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:

“If we want to build a better future for our children we need to tackle the single biggest entirely preventable cause of ill-health, disability, and death: smoking.”

However, the bill has been criticized by former prime ministers including some members of the ruling party, including Liz Truss.

The bill is expected to pass despite opposition, although there are some opposite voices. The opposition Labor Party saying it will support the measure.

The British government says smoking costs the UK health service and economy around £17 billion ($21.63 billion) every year. At the same time, the surge in vape use among teenagers and non-smokers is increasing. This has forced the British government to consider increasing controls.

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