Year on year rises in the age of sale for cigarettes and other tobacco products could be introduced, after an independent review commissioned by the Government recommended the measures.
The review sets out a raft of recommendations to support the government to meet its smokefree ambition by 2030 and tackle health disparities to level up the health of the nation. These include raising the age of sale from 18 by 1 year every year, until eventually no one can buy a tobacco product in this country.
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Earlier this year Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid commissioned the review into ways the government can help more people quit smoking and live healthier lives, led by Dr Javed Khan, former CEO of children’s charity Barnardo’s.
‘Without immediate and sustained action, England will miss the smokefree target by many years and most likely decades,’ said Dr Khan.
‘A smokefree society should be a social norm – but to achieve this, we must do more to stop people taking up smoking, help those who already smoke and support those who are disproportionately impacted by smoking. My holistic set of recommendations for government will deliver this, whilst saving lives, saving money and addressing the health disparities associated with smoking.’
The report highlights that although the government has made substantial long-term progress in reducing smoking rates to their lowest ever level, due to measures such as the ban on smoking indoors, tobacco is still one of the largest drivers of health disparities.
During the COVID pandemic, the proportion of young adults aged 18 to 24 that smoke rose from 1 in 4 to 1 in 3. Nearly 1 in 10 pregnant women smoke at the time of giving birth, which increases the risk of stillbirth, miscarriage and sudden infant death syndrome.
‘Javed Khan’s report sets out an ambitious vision, combining a call on government to increase investment in tobacco control with tougher regulations, both of which are essential to achieve a smokefree 2030,’ said Chief Executive of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Deborah Arnott.
‘This is what the public wants too – research by YouGov commissioned by ASH to provide evidence for the review shows a substantial majority support stronger government interventions to tackle smoking. Twelve billion pounds pours out of smokers’ pockets each year exacerbating the cost of living crisis in our poorest communities. Only by making smoking obsolete can the government deliver on its levelling up mission for health and wellbeing.’