UK House Passes Bill Banning Tobacco Sales for Anyone Born After 2009

Other countries have also implemented strict smoking bans in recent years.

April 18, 2024

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hopes to create a “smoke-free generation” in the United Kingdom, Forbes reported. The U.K.’s House of Commons approved a bill on Tuesday in a 383-67 vote that will ban tobacco sales for anyone born after January 1, 2009 or later. The bill will raise the age of tobacco sales by one year every year, with the aim of stopping today’s young people from ever taking up smoking.

“The bill also includes provisions regulating the marketing and packaging of vapes and other nicotine products to make them less appealing to children,” wrote Forbes, citing flavors and display packaging as methods that entice young people to smoke.

Other amendments will likely be added to the bill, including the age of people affected and licensing requirements for vape retailers, according to the Guardian.

The Guardian also noted that “government figures show smoking costs the United Kingdom about £17 billion a year, including £10 billion through lost productivity alone. It says this cost dwarfs the £10 billion raised through taxes on tobacco products.”

Other countries have implemented strict anti-tobacco laws in recent years, including Mexico, which approved a total ban on public smoking last year, wrote Forbes. The Portuguese government released plans last May that will extend a ban on public smoking and limit tobacco sales to create a “tobacco-free generation” by 2040.

The House of Lords is expected to vote on the bill for final approval in June.

In the United States, Brookline, Massachusetts, a town located just outside of Boston, adopted a bylaw in 2020 that bans the sale of tobacco to anyone born in the 21st century. The bylaw is the first of its kind in the country and was upheld by the state’s highest court.

Similarly, U.S. retailers await a decision on the FDA’s menthol ban, which would ban the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars.

NACS has argued against the menthol ban, urging the White House in a November 2023 letter to reconsider: “(T)he proposed ban on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars would have a detrimental impact on small businesses, including approximately 93,250 small operators in the U.S. convenience store industry,” wrote NACS. “If implemented, a single convenience store would lose $72,285 a year in non-tobacco sundry sales, representing close to 4% of inside sales, on top of the $160,107 lost due to the reduction in sales of tobacco products.”

In addition to the economic impact, the proposed ban would have the exact opposite results that proponents have championed. In November, NACS provided a statement to Fox News on the issue: “Experience with state bans shows that they don’t advance public health or reduce smoking—they just lead to illegal, unregulated sales and deprive a significant source of tax revenue for local, state and federal governments. It would be bad policy for FDA to replicate those failed policies on a national level. We hope that FDA is reconsidering its policy in light of the evidence that these types of bans simply don’t work.”