MPs are calling the government for the age of sale of cigarettes to rise from 18 to 21, in a bid to end the “tobacco epidemic” by 2023.
The All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health is calling for tougher tobacco regulations to help smokers quit, as well as protect children and young people from becoming smokers.
The group is also calling for putting health warnings on cigarettes as well as raising the legal age for cigarettes.
It warns the government that it can only “build back better and fairer” from the pandemic by making smoking obsolete and has urged the government to commit to the actions needed to secure its vision of a Smokefree 2030.
According to a new report, the group said funding for tobacco control programmes should be secured through a ‘polluter pays’ amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill, forcing manufacturers to pay to deliver the end of smoking.
In addition, the group said targeted investment should also provide additional support to help smokers quit in regions and communities where smoking does the most damage.
This includes those in routine and manual jobs and the unemployed; living in social housing; with a mental health condition; and pregnant smokers.
“Our report sets out measures which will put us on track to achieve the Government’s ambition to end smoking by 2030, but they can’t be delivered without funding,” All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health chairman Bob Blackman said.
“Tobacco manufacturers make extreme profits selling highly addictive, lethal products, while government coffers are bare because of Covid-19. The manufacturers have the money, they should be made to pay to end the epidemic.”
Chief executive of Action on Smoking Health Deborah Arnott added: “We all applauded when the government announced its ambition for a Smokefree 2030. But that was two years ago, the time has now come to deliver.”
The report and its recommendations have been endorsed by leading health organisations including the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, the Association of Directors of Public Health, Asthma UK, the British Heart Foundation, the British Lung Foundation, the British Thoracic Society, Cancer Research UK, the Faculty of Public Health, the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, the Health Foundation, the Royal Society of Public Health and the Royal College of Physicians.