Britain proposes that children now aged 14 or younger will never legally buy cigarettes there

By Leanne Dempsey Policy News   |   4th Oct 2023

Tough new plans to completely ban the sale of cigarettes to the next generation in Britain is a reminder of how far Ireland has fallen behind other countries.

The Irish Heart Foundation said this country needs to take similar action to protect children from the ‘health catastrophe’ of smoking.

UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, today outlined proposals to raise the legal age of smoking annually by one year, meaning children now aged 14 or younger will never be allowed to legally buy cigarettes there.

“This move by the UK Prime Minister is to be hugely welcomed and promises to protect children and future generations from what is the biggest cause of preventable death,”

Chris Macey, Director of Advocacy and Patient Support with the Irish Heart Foundation

“It also represents another reminder of how far Ireland has fallen behind other countries in taking the tough action needed to tackle the health catastrophe of smoking.

“A recent HSE poll found that 83% of the Irish population want smoking to be phased out. But we’ve lost our way so badly in terms of tobacco and nicotine control that the youth smoking rate is actually rising for the first time in a generation.

“We’re one of the last countries in Europe where it’s legal to sell vapes to children.”

Chris Macey

“Our Tobacco Free Ireland policy of reducing the smoking rate to 5% by 2025 is going to fail by a margin of around half a million smokers.”

Britain’s move follows similar anti-smoking measures in New Zealand last December.

Mr Macey said this should prompt an urgent examination by the Government of implementing tougher smokefree legislation in Ireland, along with the introduction of much greater protection for children from e-cigarettes.

“As Prime Minister Sunak is also proposing, that includes the ban on disposable vapes, an end to all e-cigarette flavours apart from tobacco, a blanket advertising ban, plain packaging and a specific tax on vapes,” he said.

Earlier this week, the Irish Heart Foundation launched its pre-budget submisssion and called for a commitment from the Government to increase the price of a packet of 20 cigarettes to €20 by 2025, requiring a Budget increase of €2.10 for the next two years.

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