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The UK might ban all under-25s from buying cigarettes

The ‘anti-smoking tsar’ wants to cut smoking rates to just 5 percent of the population

Ed Cunningham
Written by
Ed Cunningham

Smoking has been linked with heart disease, emphysema, strokes, multiple cancers and many other afflictions, but despite all that, it’s still pretty popular. After all, that’s what addictive things are designed to do. And smoking’s whole ‘cool’ image – reinforced by decades of film, TV and celeb culture – can’t exactly help. 

The UK government wants to cut smoking rates to just 5 percent of the population by 2030. But with current rates sitting at around 15 percent, how is the UK going to reach that target? Well, Javed Khan, the country’s ‘anti-smoking tsar’, has suggested that the country could ban cigarette sales to anyone under the age of 25. 

Khan, who is leading an independent inquiry into cutting the number of smokers, has said that he believes stopping young people from starting smoking is key to cutting smoking rates more widely. He wants to combine a new smoking age (the current UK rules let anyone over the age of 18 buy tobacco, fyi) with advertising campaigns on social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok.

If Khan’s suggestions are implemented, the UK’s anti-smoking agenda would compare to that of New Zealand. NZ’s strict new laws aim to totally cut out smoking among young people, banning anyone born after 2008 from buying cigarettes for their entire lifetime. 

While smoking rates in the UK have been dropping for decades, there are still six million smokers, and it remains the country’s single largest cause of preventable death. But in any case, so far all this is just rumours and speculation. We’ll have a much better idea of what’s happening once Khan’s recommendations have been submitted to the government health department on April 22. 

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