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Response to Rishi Sunak’s announcement on smoking

LTA RESPONSE: ACHIEVING SMOKEFREE 2030: Raising age of sale and measures to restrict youth vaping

The London Tobacco Alliance has responded to announcements made today by the Prime Minister.

Find out more about the announcements made in the PM’s speech.

In summary, the PM pledged to:

  • Raise the legal age of sale for tobacco products one year, every year from 2027 onwards
  • Allocate additional £70 million funding for local authority Stop Smoking Services from 2024
  • Increase funding for awareness raising campaigns by £5 million this year and £15 million from next year
  • Increase funding for illicit tobacco and vapes enforcement by £30 million from next year
  • Consult on measures to tackle the rise in youth vaping

Tracy Parr, Programme Director for London Tobacco Alliance and Stop Smoking London said:

“We welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement on raising the age of sale on tobacco products one year each year from 2027. This decision is an important step towards achieving Smokefree 2030 ambitions – ensuring that the life-limiting effects of smoking are banished to the history books.

“Smoking is still the leading cause of premature death and preventable disease in the UK and in London. This is a significant step to prevent future generations from starting to smoke.

“We would like to see more action and welcome increased investment in local authority services to support the nearly one million smokers in London to quit, to reduce smoking related health harms and inequalities in our communities. Tobacco companies are still profiting from addiction and death. Although the news on age of sale will impact this, it will not come soon enough. A levy on the tobacco industry will help ensure they are held accountable for the harm they inflict and help fund support for existing smokers to stop.”

On measures to restrict youth vaping:

“Selling nicotine vapes to under 18s is illegal and there is no circumstance in which children, young people and non-smokers should take up vaping.

“Easy accessibility, enticing packaging and branding, as well as the proliferation of illegal products has fuelled vaping by under 18s. We support action to curb underage vaping, tackle illicit products in our communities and enforcement of the current laws designed to prevent sale to under 18s.

“We must also not lose sight of the fact that nicotine vapes are the most popular stop smoking aid in England and clinical trials confirm they are an extremely effective support for smokers to quit.  As such we must continue to encourage adult smokers in London to use nicotine vapes and other smoking cessation aids, together with behavioural support, rather than smoking tobacco, while ensuring that measures to restrict young people vaping do not limit adult smokers access to this effective support.”

Bob Blackman CBE MP, Chairman of the APPG on Smoking and Health said:

“We congratulate the Prime Minister for sending a clear message in his speech today that this government is determined to live up to its smokefree ambition. The recommendations set out in the Khan independent review on smoking have been taken on board, and there will be immediate benefits to smokers, to the NHS, to social care and to public finances. We look forward to seeing his words turned into action, with commitments in the King’s speech in November to legislation in the forthcoming parliamentary session.”

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of health charity ASH, said:

“The Prime Minister has today announced an unprecedented set of measures to protect the next generation and hasten the day when smoking is obsolete. Children are four times as likely to start smoking if they grow up with smokers, and once they do it’s highly addictive and difficult to quit. The twin track approach of raising the age of sale and tougher enforcement to stop young people starting, matched by substantial additional funding to motivate addicted smokers to quit and provide them with the support they need to succeed, will help get us on track to a smokefree future. We look forward to the day when smoking is no longer responsible for avoidable ill health and perinatal mortality in babies and young children, nor the leading cause of premature death in adults.”

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