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England Plans To Raise Smoking Age Annually, Following New Zealand’s Lead

In a move that follows New Zealand’s world-leading smoking crackdown, the age at which people can purchase cigarettes and tobacco in England is set to increase by one year each year, effectively introducing a legal ban on smoking for the next generation.

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British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced his intention to introduce this legislation to Parliament before next year’s general election. 

The proposal, initially recommended by a government-commissioned review in 2022, aims to raise the legal age for purchasing tobacco. 

Under this plan, a child who is 14 years old today would never legally be allowed to buy tobacco products as the legal age rises each year.

Mr Sunak, who comes from a medical background as the child of a doctor and a pharmacist, also pledged to implement measures to restrict the availability of e-cigarettes and vapes to children. 

While it is already illegal to sell vapes to individuals under 18 in the UK, officials have reported a tripling in youth vaping rates over the past three years, surpassing the number of young smokers.

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The proposal is similar to the law that came into effect in New Zealand this year, ensuring tobacco cannot be sold to anyone born on or after January 1, 2009.

Australian Health Minister Mark Butler said the Albanese government will monitor the impact of smoking bans in New Zealand and the UK as pressure mounts for Australia to keep pace with them.

The Australian government has recently introduced a comprehensive package of tobacco control reforms, including new vaping laws and cigarette measures.

“The government has taken an evidence-based approach, following a deep review of existing tobacco regulation, but also best practice across the world,” Mr Butler said.

“The UK and New Zealand have responded to the specific tactics of big tobacco marketed to their populations, and we will monitor their implementation success with interest.”

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