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Brits back ban on smoking: 52% want an ‘immediate’ end to cigarette sales – and over 70% say UK should follow New Zealand’s example and phase them out

  • Poll for MailOnline shows 52% of Brits want an immediate ban on cigarette sales
  • Just 24% were against the idea in the research by Redfield & Wilton Strategies
  • There was even stronger support for a New Zealand-style phasing out of tobacco

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A majority of Brits want an immediate ban on cigarette sales, according to a shock poll today.

Research for MailOnline found that 52 per cent would support an ‘outright’ block on buying them – with 31 per cent backing it ‘strongly’.

Just 24 per cent were against the move in the survey by Redfield & Wilton Strategies, despite criticism that it would remove people’s right to choose.

Sentiment in favour of phasing out of cigarettes was even greater, with 71 per cent endorsing a policy such as that being introduced in New Zealand. That will mean no-one born after 2008 can buy tobacco. 

Only a tenth opposed the idea, according to the poll.  

The findings could fuel the belief of some MPs and health experts that public opinion is approaching a ‘tipping point’, similar to when the UK ban on smoking in pubs, bars and restaurants was introduced in 2006 and 2007.      

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting revealed at the weekend that Labour will consult on phasing out the sale of cigarettes as part of ‘fresh radical thinking’ to ease pressures on the NHS.

Research for MailOnline found that 52 per cent would support an 'outright' block on buying them - with 31 per cent backing it 'strongly'

Research for MailOnline found that 52 per cent would support an ‘outright’ block on buying them – with 31 per cent backing it ‘strongly’

Sentiment in favour of phasing out of cigarettes was even greater, with 71 per cent endorsing a policy such as that being introduced in New Zealand

Sentiment in favour of phasing out of cigarettes was even greater, with 71 per cent endorsing a policy such as that being introduced in New Zealand

In what is believed to be the first such legislation in the world, New Zealand is set to bring in a cut-off point for buying tobacco based on year of birth.  

The annually rising legal smoking age is aimed at preventing the country’s next generation from ever taking up smoking.

Mr Streeting said he was ‘genuinely curious’ about how the New Zealand law, which is being accompanied by a range of other measures to make smoking less affordable and accessible, will work.   

A Government-commissioned independent review published this summer recommended increasing the legal smoking age from 18 by one year every year.

Ministers have previously set an objective for England to be smokefree by 2030.

Smoking rates in the UK have fallen from about half of the population in the 1970s to around just 15 per cent now. 

But use was found to have increased by 25 per cent among the under-30s in England during the Covid pandemic, the equivalent of more than 600,000 new smokers.

According to estimates by the Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) charity, the annual costs to the NHS of treating illnesses associated with smoking is £2.4 billion.

They have also estimated further billions of pounds’ worth of costs to social care and wider society.

The Office for Budget Responsibility estimates that tobacco duties will raise £10.7billion in 2022-23.

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said Labour would consult on phasing out the sale of cigarettes as part of 'fresh radical thinking' to ease pressures on the NHS

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said Labour would consult on phasing out the sale of cigarettes as part of ‘fresh radical thinking’ to ease pressures on the NHS

Smoking has steadily decreased since 1974, with around 15 per cent of the UK population smoking in 2019

Smoking has steadily decreased since 1974, with around 15 per cent of the UK population smoking in 2019

How have UK laws changed on smoking? 

1965 – Cigarette adverts are banned on TV

1971 – Tobacco industry voluntarily agrees to include health warnings on cigarette packs

1974 – Government asks the tobacco industry to allocate some of its advertising budget to health education

1981 – Cigarette taxation increased by 14p on a packet of 20

1984 – Smoking is banned on London Underground trains

1990 – Government introduces larger health warnings for tobacco packaging, in line with EC requirements

1991 – New laws tighten up restrctions on sale of cigarettes to children under 16

1998 – EU directive to ban tobacco advertising and sponsorship is adopted

2002 – Laws to ban tobacco advertising are passed by Parliament

2006 – Scotland bans smoking in nearly all workplaces and enclosed public places, including pubs and clubs

2007 – Smoking ban in England comes into force, while legal age for purchasing tobacco is raised from 16 to 18

2012 – Tobacco is banned from display in large stores

2014 – Buying cigarettes for anyone under 18 is made an offence, while the Government gets new powers to introduce standardised packaging

2015 – Ban on displaying tobacco in small shops comes into force, while MPs vote in favour of a ban on smoking in cars with children

2019 – Government makes commitment for England to be smokefree by 2030

Source: Daily Mail UK

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