Rishi Sunak is planning on banning cigarettes , barring the next generation from purchasing cigarettes, according to information obtained by The Guardian.
Sources within Whitehall have indicated that the Prime Minister is exploring options similar to those enacted by New Zealand in December of the previous year. These measures involved a gradual increase in the legal smoking age, ultimately resulting in tobacco no longer being accessible to individuals born on or after January 1, 2009.
It is also understood that Sunak may revisit his leadership commitment to impose a £10 fine on individuals who miss GP or hospital appointments, although this could pose political challenges. The Prime Minister initially announced this idea during his 2022 campaign but appeared to set it aside after assuming office last autumn.
Emulating New Zealand’s anti-smoking policy would mean a complete phase-out of cigarettes for the upcoming generation. During the tenure of former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand also passed legislation to reduce the nicotine content of tobacco products and restrict their sale to specialty tobacco stores rather than convenience stores and supermarkets.
The Labour Party
The Labour Party has previously expressed its intention to explore the gradual cessation of cigarette sales to younger individuals, similar to New Zealand’s approach. Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting mentioned in January that he aimed to gauge public interest in such a change.
The team of Rishi Sunak is introducing potential policies like banning cigarettes as part of a fresh, consumer-focused initiative in preparation for next year’s election.This week, the Prime Minister faced widespread criticism from businesses, centrist Tories, and environmental groups for backtracking on his party’s net-zero targets.
Moreover, concerns surfaced regarding education when the government revealed its contemplation of transitioning from the A-level system to something more resembling the international baccalaureate, granting students the opportunity to study a broader range of subjects.
In response to Sunak’s reversal on net-zero targets and the uncertainty surrounding education policies, Labour leader Keir Starmer accused the government of causing instability in the country, exacerbating what he referred to as an “economic crisis” under the Tories.
“At a time when both people and businesses are yearning for stability, Rishi Sunak’s actions have further fueled the economic turmoil within the Tory party,” he told The Guardian. “Britain has a unique opportunity to reverse 13 years of decline, to reduce costs for individuals, generate quality jobs, and reduce our dependence on China and Putin. Sunak’s indecisiveness is now a barrier to the country’s true revitalization.”
Sunak is also facing mounting pressure regarding the HS2 high-speed rail project, with discussions underway about potentially eliminating the Birmingham-to-Manchester section of the project. This move could incense northern Tories and jeopardize seats won during Boris Johnson’s 2019 campaign.
The Prime Minister is reportedly contemplating the need to “reallocate” some infrastructure spending, with the cancellation of the northern leg potentially freeing up billions for the Chancellor to use in tax cuts before the upcoming election. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt stated earlier this week that the costs of HS2 were “completely unmanageable.”