Chancellor Rishi Sunak Proposes Gradual Increase in Smoking Age in England; Scotland’s Response Awaited.

Plan Aims to Deter Young Smokers, But Scotland’s Health Policy Remains a Key Variable.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has unveiled an ambitious plan to combat smoking among the younger generation in England. The proposal entails a gradual increase in the legal age for purchasing cigarettes, with the age limit rising by one year every year. If passed in Parliament, this initiative would mean that “a 14-year old today will never legally be sold a cigarette.”

Mr. Sunak’s groundbreaking proposal is set to be subject to a free vote in the UK Parliament, and initial indications suggest significant support. The Welsh government has already committed to adopting the plan, while the Labour Party has expressed its intent to back the measure at Westminster.

However, the devolved nature of health policy in the UK presents a unique challenge. While Mr. Sunak’s proposal applies specifically to England, he is keen to collaborate with the devolved governments to develop a unified, UK-wide approach. This means that the Scottish Parliament will have a pivotal role in determining the legal smoking age in Scotland.

Scotland has a history of leading the way in anti-smoking measures. In 2006, it became the first part of the UK to ban smoking in public places, including restaurants and pubs. Last year, Scotland strengthened its stance with the introduction of fines of up to £1,000 for violations of the voluntary smoke-free policy around hospital buildings.

Ministers in Scotland take pride in the nation’s achievements in anti-smoking campaigns, making it less likely that they would opt for measures that could be perceived as less ambitious than those proposed by Mr. Sunak.

The decision regarding Scotland’s stance on the smoking age remains uncertain, but clarity is expected later this year when the Scottish government publishes its “refreshed” Tobacco Action Plan. This plan will likely shed light on Scotland’s approach to this latest proposal and its ongoing commitment to anti-smoking efforts.

As the UK continues to grapple with the critical issue of smoking and its impact on public health, the collaborative approach taken by devolved governments will play a pivotal role in shaping the nation’s response and safeguarding the health of future generations.








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