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Article England: Proposed Law Would Introduce Total Ban on Cigarette Sales in Attempt to Phase Out Smoking

On October 4, 2023, the United Kingdom’s prime minister, Rishi Sunak, announced his intention to introduce a new law that would prohibit the sale of cigarettes in England to individuals born after January 1, 2009. The proposed law, which would phase out smoking by increasing the legal smoking age each year until it applies to the entire population, has been described as “the most significant public health intervention in a generation, saving tens of thousands of lives and saving the NHS billions of pounds.”

The proposed law would make it an offense for anyone born on or after January 1, 2009, to be sold tobacco products. The government claims that “[t]his has the potential to phase out smoking in young people almost completely as early as 2040.” The legislation would not criminalize smoking or prevent anyone who is currently able to legally purchase cigarettes from doing so in the future.

The proposed legislation would implement a recommendation made in the Khan Report, an independent report into smoking in England commissioned by the government. The report found that 6 million people smoke in England and smoking is currently “the single biggest cause of preventable illness and death,” responsible for one in four deaths from cancer and for 64,000 deaths annually.

While 10 billion pounds (£) (approximately US$12.4 billion) is raised by taxes from tobacco products annually, tobacco use costs the economy £17 billion (approximately US$20.1 billion) each year. Smoking causes a significant burden to the National Health Service (NHS), the publicly funded health care provider, with one hospital admission a minute being attributable to smoking. Tobacco use is the cause of almost 1 million visits to general practitioners each year.

It is estimated that, if enacted, the proposed bill would result in 1.7 million fewer smokers by 2075 and save thousands of lives. Additionally, the health care system would save billions of dollars, and the economy would be boosted by up to £85 million (approximately US$104 million) by the year 2075. If legislative action is not taken, the Khan Report estimated that smoking would cause half a million deaths from 2022–2030.

In addition to the phased-in ban on tobacco use, the prime minister also announced that he would initiate a consultation to work toward reducing vaping among children, which has tripled over the last three years, by restricting the sale of disposable vapes, as well as regulating flavors and packaging “that appear to specifically target young people.” Point of sale displays would also be regulated to keep them out of sight of children. To help enforce these measures, £30 million (approximately US$37 million) would be invested in the responsible support agencies, which include Trading Standards, which is responsible for taking action to prevent underage sales, and His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and Border Force, which is responsible for preventing the import of illegal tobacco and vaping products at the border. To help current smokers stop smoking, the government would provide an additional £70 million (approximately US$86 million) annually in local support services.

Clare Feikert-Ahalt, Law Library of Congress
October 17, 2023

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Chicago citation style:

Feikert-Ahalt, Clare. England: Proposed Law Would Introduce Total Ban on Cigarette Sales in Attempt to Phase Out Smoking. 2023. Web Page. https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2023-10-16/england-proposed-law-would-introduce-total-ban-on-cigarette-sales-in-attempt-to-phase-out-smoking/.

APA citation style:

Feikert-Ahalt, C. (2023) England: Proposed Law Would Introduce Total Ban on Cigarette Sales in Attempt to Phase Out Smoking. [Web Page] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2023-10-16/england-proposed-law-would-introduce-total-ban-on-cigarette-sales-in-attempt-to-phase-out-smoking/.

MLA citation style:

Feikert-Ahalt, Clare. England: Proposed Law Would Introduce Total Ban on Cigarette Sales in Attempt to Phase Out Smoking. 2023. Web Page. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2023-10-16/england-proposed-law-would-introduce-total-ban-on-cigarette-sales-in-attempt-to-phase-out-smoking/>.