MPs call for ban on cigarette sales to under-21s in bid to end ‘tobacco epidemic’

A cross-party group called for sales to under 21s to be banned (Image: Getty Images/Westend61)

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MPs have called for the sale of cigarettes to under-21s to be banned to end the "tobacco epidemic" by 2030.

A cross-party group has called for the minimum age to go up to 18 as part of tougher tobacco regulations to protect children from becoming smokers and help smokers quit.

The proposals also include a "polluter pays" amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill to force manufacturers to pay for programmes that help end smoking.

The report from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health notes that more people are likely to have died in the last 18 months from smoking than Covid-19.

It suggests that there is widespread support for the recommendations with more than 76% of the public, as well as health charities and medical organisations, backing the Government's plan for a "Smokefree 2030".

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Committee chair Bob Blackman said: "Tobacco manufacturers make extreme profits selling highly addictive, lethal products, while Government coffers are bare because of Covid-19.

"The manufacturers have the money, they should be made to pay to end the epidemic."

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH, said: "We all applauded when the Government announced its ambition for a Smokefree 2030.

But that was two years ago, the time has now come to deliver.

"Currently smoking rates are not declining nearly fast enough. If, as called for by the APPG, the recommendations in its report are implemented by 2022 we can get on track to make smoking obsolete by 2030."

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