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UK Parliament Moves to Ban Cigarette Sales to Those Born After 2009

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UK Parliament Moves to Ban Cigarette Sales to Those Born After 2009

(CTN News) – MPs have supported a proposal to prohibit anyone born after 2009 from purchasing cigarettes, effectively ensuring that it will become law.

The changes, championed by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, passed despite opposition from several prominent Tory officials, including two former Prime Ministers.

As she defended the plans, Health Secretary Victoria Atkins told MPs that “there is no liberty in addiction”.

The Tobacco and Vaping Bill passed with 383 votes to 67.

If they become law, the UK’s smoking rules will be among the most stringent in the world.

The UK’s approach is said to have been influenced by a similar statute in New Zealand, which was later abolished following a change of administration.

Ms Atkins stated in the House of Commons that the plan will result in a “Cigarette-free generation.”

However, numerous Tory MPs, including former Prime Minister Liz Truss, voted against the bill, claiming it would restrict personal freedom.

Boris Johnson, the former prime minister, branded the smoking ban “absolutely nuts” during a speech at a Conservative convention in Ottawa, Canada, last week.

“When the party of Winston Churchill wants to ban cigars, donnez-moi un break as they say in Quebec, it’s just mad,” stated the former prime minister.

Conservative MPs were granted a free vote on the bill, which means they were not required to vote with the administration. However, solid backing from Labour’s front bench ensured that the proposals passed.

There are still other stages to go before it becomes law, such as votes in the House of Lords, but it is feasible that the measure will become law before the general election, which is scheduled for the second part of 2024.

New Zealand

Wes Streeting, Labour’s shadow health and social care secretary, accused Mr. Sunak of “putting the bill at risk” by providing a free vote “because he is too weak to stand up to the Liz Truss wing of his party”.

“If we are privileged enough to form the next government, Labour will implement this ban, so young people today are even less likely to Cigarette than they are to vote Conservative,” he went on to say.

178 Tory MPs supported the measure, but 57, including Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch and Conservative Party Deputy Chair Jonathan Gullis, voted against it.

Foreign Office Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan also objected but ultimately abstained from the vote.

She was one of 106 Tory MPs with “no vote recorded,” including House of Commons leader Penny Mordaunt.

Not all of those named in this manner will have abstained, as some will have been granted permission to miss the vote.

Lee Anderson, an ex-deputy chair of the Conservative Party who opposed Reform UK last month, also voted against the bill.

During a conference speech last October, Mr. Sunak announced plans to prohibit Cigarette purchases for anyone born after January 1, 2009.

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The debate on Tuesday marked MPs’ first opportunity to discuss legislation implementing the prohibition.

Ms. Truss was among the first to oppose the bill, telling the House of Commons that it risked infantilizing people.

“It is very important that until people have decision-making capability while they are growing up that we protect them but I think the whole idea that we can protect adults from themselves is hugely problematic.”

Some of her fellow Conservative MPs expressed similar concerns.

Former immigration minister Robert Jenrick, a potential Tory leadership candidate, also spoke out against the idea.

On social media, he stated that he opposed the law because he “believes in personal freedom.”

“I believe in the principle of equal treatment under the law. A gradual smoking ban would be an insult to that, he said.

Former minister Sir Jake Berry stated that he was more worried about “the government’s addiction to telling people what to do” than with those who were hooked to nicotine.

“I want to live in a free society where I am free to make both good and bad decisions.”

Ms Atkins acknowledged their concerns about “banning things,” but defended the law, claiming, “Nicotine robs people of their freedom to choose.”

“The vast majority of smokers start when they are young, and three quarters say that if they could turn back the clock they would not have started.”

Earlier in the day, Sir Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, stated that once people become hooked to smoking, “their choice is taken away”.

He went on to say: “When I was a junior doctor doing surgery I remember the tragedy of seeing people, whose legs had had to be cut off because of the smoking that had damaged their arteries, outside the hospital weeping as they lit up because they were trapped by addiction – that is not choice.”

Health Impact

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of mortality in the UK, killing two-thirds of long-term users and accounting for 80,000 fatalities each year.

In addition, virtually every minute in England, a patient is admitted to the hospital with a smoking-related ailment such as heart disease, stroke, or lung cancer.

The measure also tries to reduce the appeal of vapes to youngsters by imposing additional taste and packaging limitations.

Trading standards officers would also be given the authority to issue on-the-spot £100 fines to stores selling tobacco or vapes to children, with all proceeds going towards future enforcement.

According to statistics, one in every five youngsters has tried vaping, even though it is banned for children under the age of 18, and the number of children using vapes has tripled over the last three years.

Arsi Mughal is a staff writer at CTN News, delivering insightful and engaging content on a wide range of topics. With a knack for clear and concise writing, he crafts articles that resonate with readers. Arsi's pieces are well-researched, informative, and presented in a straightforward manner, making complex subjects accessible to a broad audience. His writing style strikes the perfect balance between professionalism and casual approachability, ensuring an enjoyable reading experience.

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