Experts demand Britain reverses ‘absurd’ smoking ban that would make it illegal for modern-day children to ever buy cigarettes, after pioneering New Zealand scrapped ‘world-first’ program

Britain should scrap its ‘absurd’ smoking ban after New Zealand reversed its landmark policy, experts said today.

New Zealand was preparing to gradually raise the legal age at which people could buy tobacco, which would have been a world first.

The radical plan, introduced under former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, a darling of the global left, would have banned children born after 2009 from ever legally buying cigarettes.

But new Prime Minister Christopher Luxon, head of a newly elected conservative coalition government, has confirmed plans to formally withdraw it next week.

Now critics of Rishi Sunak’s plan to introduce a generational smoking ban in England have urged MPs to abandon his ‘vanity project’.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s 2023 health report shows that 12.7 percent of Britons over the age of 15 smoke cigarettes every day, more than in the US and New Zealand. The latter would introduce its new smoking ban from July

Critics of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's plan to impose a generational smoking ban in England have urged MPs to abandon his

Critics of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s plan to impose a generational smoking ban in England have urged MPs to abandon his “vanity project” after New Zealand abandoned its policy.

Christopher Snowdon, head of lifestyle economics at the conservative think tank Institute of Economic Affairs, said this showed how foolhardy Britain’s push for a similar ban was.

“In New Zealand, the generative tobacco ban was an authoritarian holdover from Jacinda Ardern’s left-wing government,” he said.

‘The new government realized that a ban does not work and rightly abolished it.

‘The UK is now the only country in the world to take this absurd idea seriously.’

Mr Snowdon urged MPs to put an end to what he called Mr Sunak’s “vanity project”.

“Mr Sunak is unlikely to become prime minister once the damage caused by his ban starts to bite,” he said.


2004: Ireland prohibits smoking in enclosed public places, including pubs, clubs and restaurants

2006: Scotland introduces a smoking ban in indoor public spaces

2007: England, Wales and Northern Ireland introduce indoor bans. In England, smoking is banned in almost all enclosed public spaces and the NHS becomes smoke-free. The legal age to purchase cigarettes has been increased from 16 to 18 years

2008: Cigarette manufacturers must place health warnings on packs

2010: The government announces it will maintain ban on tobacco display and consider plain packaging for tobacco products

2015: Smoking in cars with children is banned in England and the ban on displaying tobacco in small shops comes into effect across Britain

2017: Government issues aim to reduce smoking prevalence among adults to 12 percent or less by 2022

2019: Department of Health publishes plans to make England smoke-free by 2030

2020: Menthol cigarettes are banned in the UK and EU

“Sensible MPs should seize the opportunity of a free vote in Parliament and put an end to his vanity project.”

Maxwell Marlow, research director at the Adam Smith Institute think tank, added: ‘The world’s first smoking ban in New Zealand could never have been the world’s last smoking ban, at best.

‘It should come as no surprise that it has been completely withdrawn.

‘Quite apart from the infringement on our freedoms that Britain’s multi-generational ban represents, it is far more likely that the damage to public health will increase rather than decrease by driving smokers into the arms of black market criminals who maximize their potential. more dangerous products.

‘New Zealand’s Conservative government realized the errors of this approach; we must hope that it is only a matter of time before ours does the same.”

Mr Sunak announced his bold plan to ban smoking in England at the Tory party conference in September last year.

His proposal mirrored that of the Kiwis, a progressive increase in the legal age for purchasing tobacco products, so that anyone born after 2009, about 14 years old today, would never be able to legally purchase cigarettes.

The government announcement that followed boasted that this would effectively eradicate smoking among young people in England by 2040.

While the policy was celebrated by health charities, it was harshly criticized by think tanks, as well as some within Sunak’s own party, as a remarkably unconservative state attack on people’s freedoms.

They also warned that this would only drive future smokers into the arms of the black market.

Charities and experts say Sunak’s smoking ban will save tens of thousands of lives from preventable causes linked to smoking, such as cancer, heart attacks and strokes.

Michelle Mitchell, CEO of Cancer Research UK, said in November: ‘Smoking rates are falling when leaders take decisive action: that’s why we support the UK Government’s commitment to changing the age at which tobacco is sold, as announced in the King’s Speech of Today.

‘The Government must take action to bring this legislation to Parliament in early 2024, and we call on MPs from all parties to support it.

‘I’ve never met anyone who wants their child to smoke. Cancer Research UK estimates that around 885,000 16-24 year olds currently smoke in the UK.’

The government itself claims that the phased ban, if introduced, will lead to 1.7 million fewer people smoking by 2075 – saving tens of thousands of lives and preventing up to 115,000 cases of stroke, heart disease, lung cancer and other lung diseases.

The new coalition government elected in October confirmed that the repeal will be done as a matter of urgency on Tuesday, allowing it to scrap the law without seeking public comment, in line with previously announced plans.  Pictured: New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon

The new coalition government elected in October confirmed that the repeal will be done as a matter of urgency on Tuesday, allowing it to scrap the law without seeking public comment, in line with previously announced plans. Pictured: New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon

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To further justify the policy, the government also used statistics claiming that smoking costs the economy £17 billion a year through lost productivity and knock-on effects for the NHS.

But a potential casualty of the policy is tobacco duties, which are estimated to generate £10.4 billion for the Treasury this year. That amount will inevitably fall under the Prime Minister’s plan.

The phased smoking ban is part of the government’s efforts to make England ‘smoke-free’ by 2030 – defined as less than 5 percent of the adult population smoking.

How dangerous is smoking for the heart?

How does tobacco damage the heart?

Tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, including tar and others that can narrow arteries and damage blood vessels.

While nicotine – a highly addictive toxin found in tobacco – has been strongly linked to dangerous increases in heart rate and blood pressure.

Smoking also releases toxic gases such as carbon monoxide, which replaces oxygen in the blood, reducing the availability of oxygen to the heart.

How many people does smoking kill?

Smoking is known to kill more than seven million people around the world every year, 890,000 of which are from inhaling secondhand smoke.

But many people are unaware that almost half of these deaths, about three million, are due to heart disease, including heart attacks and strokes.

It was originally touted in a major 2022 review led by Dr Javed Khan to reduce smoking in England, but received a lukewarm reception.

New Zealand Health Minister Casey Costello said the new coalition government remains committed to reducing smoking in New Zealand.

But she added that a different regulatory approach was needed.

“I will soon present a package of measures to the Cabinet to increase the tools available to help people quit smoking,” she said.

The decision has been heavily criticized for its likely impact on health outcomes in New Zealand, and has also drawn criticism over fears it could have a greater impact on Maori and Pasifika populations, groups with higher smoking rates.

It is well known that smoking increases the risk of several serious lung conditions and diseases such as cancer.

The habit is linked to 64,000 deaths per year in Britain.

When it comes to cancer, cancer specifically accounts for a quarter of total deaths from the disease, and 70 percent of all lung cancer cases.

Smoking’s impact on the cardiovascular system also increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

The latest data from the Office for National Statistics shows that traditional smoking is already on the decline in Britain.

In 2022, only 12.9 percent of adults, about 6.4 million people, smoked cigarettes.

This is the lowest percentage of the adult population since measurements began in 2011.

People aged 25 to 34 were the most likely to smoke last year at 16.3 per cent, while Britons aged 65 and over were the least likely to smoke at just 8.3 per cent.

Historically, overall smoking rates in Britain are much lower than their peak in the 1970s, when around two in five adults were smokers.