Following the news that Oxfordshire are working hard towards becoming the first 'smoke-free county' in the UK and are banning smoking outdoors, it seems the age at which you can legally buy cigarettes and tobacco products - anywhere in the country - could be changing too. Currently the legal age you can buy cigarettes is 18-years-old, but MPs are petitioning the government (which previously pledged to 'end smoking' by 2030) to increase it to 21.
The group, who call themselves The All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health, have released a new report which says the age of sale should change to further discourage teenagers and young people from starting smoking, as well as being another way to help current smokers ditch the habit.
Alongside as the age change, the MPs (who span different political parties) are also rallying for a "polluter pays" amendment to be introduced to the Health and Social Care Bill, which would see tobacco manufacturers foot the bill for the plan to end smoking. They have also asked for extra support to be given in communities where smoking does the most damage – cited groups include those who work routine and manual jobs, people who are unemployed, those who live in social housing, people with mental health illnesses and who are pregnant.
So far, the group's plan has been backed by multiple health charities and medical organisations.
APPG chairman Bob Blackman said: "Our [new] report sets out measures which will put us on track to achieve the government's ambition to end smoking by 2030, but they can't be delivered without funding. Tobacco manufacturers make extreme profits selling highly addictive, lethal products, while government coffers are bare because of COVID-19.
Blackman added, "The manufacturers have the money, they should be made to pay to end the epidemic."
Adding to this, Alison Cook, director of external affairs at Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation, said: "Smoking still accounts for 35% of all respiratory deaths in England each year and it is still the leading cause of preventable lung diseases such as lung cancer and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)."
Cook continued, "We welcome the recommendations in this report, which include targeted support for people to successfully quit this deadly addiction.
"If the government is serious about reaching its own target of becoming smoke-free by 2030, it needs to do much more by urgently providing sustainable funding for the delivery of stop smoking services across the NHS and in the community, as a broad offer is highly effective in supporting people to quit. Without action now, we will continue to see thousands of people die every year as a result of preventable lung diseases linked to smoking."
Watch this space...
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