King Charles expresses support for potential U.K. smoking ban in bid for ‘smoke-free generation’
The proposed legislation would turn out a ‘smoke-free generation’
During his first State Opening of Parliament as the crowned monarch, King Charles III expressed support for Prime Minster Rishi Sunak’s plan to gradually ban smoking in the United Kingdom — noting that the legislation would turn out a “smoke-free generation,” per the Independent.
In a bid to ultimately phase out use of tobacco in the U.K., the proposed legislation would raise the legal smoking age by one year. Any British resident born after Jan. 1, 2009 (14 years old in 2023) will not be legally able to purchase cigarettes or other tobacco products during their lifetime.
“My Government will introduce legislation to create a smoke-free generation by restricting the sale of tobacco so that children currently aged fourteen or younger can never be sold cigarettes, and restricting the sale and marketing of e-cigarettes to children,” Charles said in his address to parliament, per Leading Britain’s Conversation.
Sunak introduced plans to phase out the sale of tobacco products — including single-use vapes — to the coming generation during the 2023 Conservative Party conference in Manchester.
“Four in five smokers have started by the time they’re 20, later the vast majority try to quit but many fail because they’re addicted and they wish they had never taken up the habit in the first place,” Sunak said at the October conference, per the Independent.
“If we could break that cycle — if we could stop the start — then we would be on our way to ending the biggest cause of preventable death and disease in our country.
“I propose that in future we raise the smoking age by one year every year. That means a 14-year-old today will never legally be sold a cigarette and that they and their generation can grow up smoke free.”
The proposed policy would likely look similar to New Zealand’s smoking ban — in 2022, New Zealand’s parliament passed legislation which bans anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 2009, from purchasing cigarette or tobacco products, as reported by the Deseret News. This marked the first ever tobacco ban for future generations.
“Smoking is a deadly habit — it kills tens of thousands of people each year and places a huge burden on the NHS and the economy,” a New Zealand government spokesperson told The Guardian. “We want to encourage more people to quit and meet our ambition to be smoke-free by 2030, which is why we have already taken steps to reduce smoking rates.”
Smoking in the U.S.
Cigarette smoking claims 480,000 lives (1 in 5 deaths) in the United States every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking rates in the U.S. have decreased during recent decades but 12.5% of U.S. adults still report being daily smokers. Smoking cigarettes is the leading cause of preventable disease, disability and death in the U.S. — more than 16 million Americans suffer from a smoking-related disease.