Legal smoking age could be raised to 21 in England
Following a “radical” review planning to turn the country into a smoke-free one by 2030, reports say that the legal smoking age could be raised in England from 18 to 21.
Reports say that the legal smoking age could be raised in England from 18 to 21 after a “radical” review is planning to transform the country into a smoke-free one by 2030.
The Telegraph says that an independent review commissioned by Sajid Javid, the health secretary, and led by Javed Khan, the former chief executive of the children’s charity Barnardo’s, is also predicted to back new taxes on tobacco firm profits.
Recommending the NHS increase efforts to help smokers, especially among pregnant women, to switch to e-cigarettes and vaping, is also expected according to the review.
As per the Telegraph, Javid, who quit smoking after he became a health secretary a year ago, had considered advising to raise the minimum age to 25. He is also in favour of significant changes to the government’s tobacco policy, including tightening the rules on sales.
As per Khan, he has said he backs a “polluter pays” approach that would oblige tobacco firms to finance anti-smoking policies. After the launch of the review, he said his findings would “help highlight key interventions which can help the government achieve its ambitions to be smoke-free by 2030 and tackle health disparities”.
During the review, Khan consulted a source that told the Telegraph: “The stance he’s taken in the meetings I’ve had with him has been quite radical.”
The review was considered by three sources to be a “political cover” for Javid to avoid Downing Street ditching the 2030 target while there are fears that the Conservatives might be accused of trying to apply a “nanny state”.
The minimum age for buying tobacco in England, Wales, and Scotland was raised from 16 to 18 in 2007. In the same year, smoking indoors in public and in workplaces was made illegal in England, Northern Ireland, and Wales.
The Telegraph also reported that Prime Minister Boris Johnson does not believe the age should be increased because the government recognizes 18 as the threshold of legal responsibility.
It was planned that the review would be initially published next week but has since been delayed.
According to the Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson, “Tackling issues such as smoking is a priority for the office for health improvement and disparities and a key part of the government’s leveling up agenda. This is why we launched the independent review of our bold ambition to make England smoke-free by 2030.
“The review will provide independent, evidence-based advice on potential interventions that will inform our approach to tackling the stark health disparities associated with tobacco use – and we look forward to seeing the report in due course.”