A UK government-commissioned review recommended Thursday that the legal age of sale for cigarettes in the UK should rise each year to phase out tobacco use.
The report sets out 15 recommendations to help the government meet its target of being “smokefree by 2030.” The smokefree target is defined by the UK government as 5% smoking prevalence or less in England by 2030. Some of the recommendations include an increased investment of an additional £125 million per year towards smokefree 2030 policies and the promotion of vapes as a “swap to stop” tool to help people quit smoking.
The report outlined how there are an estimated six million people in England who smoke, with tobacco remaining “the single biggest cause of preventable death and illness.” Additionally, during the COVID pandemic, the report estimated “the proportion of young adults aged 18 to 24 that smoke rose from 1 in 4 to 1 in 3.”
Leader of the independent review into smoking, Dr. Jared Khan OBE stated: “Without immediate and sustained action, England will miss the smokefree target by many years and most likely decades.” Meanwhile, Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK Michelle Mitchell said: “This review provides the government with the steps needed to close the health inequality gap and make smoking obsolete; it must now implement the recommendations. With bold action, we can save countless lives.”
New Zealand announced a similar move last year when it declared that it would raise the legal smoking age by one year every year, effectively banning the sale of tobacco to those born after 2008.
The findings of the independent review will now be considered and a response will be published as part of the government’s Health Disparities White Paper.