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UK Government Proposes Radical Approach to Smoking Age Limit

UK Government Proposes Radical Approach to Smoking Age Limit 

The UK government has released a review that could potentially lead to an increase in the smoking age limit. Initially, it was believed that the age limit would be raised to 21. However, the review proposes a more radical approach, similar to New Zealand’s policy, which involves increasing the age limit by one year every year.

While previous reports suggested that vaping would be included in the age limit increase, it appears that this has been dropped, possibly due to the belief that vaping is crucial in achieving the UK’s smoke-free goals. The impact on the vaping industry could be positive if young smokers choose reduced harm alternatives to cigarettes. Nonetheless, cigarettes, drugs, and alcohol are still easily accessible to those under 18, and most people start smoking before they are legally allowed to vape. Bans on nicotine products also often fail, and the impact of the UK ban on menthol cigarettes was minimal.

The New Nicotine Alliance has previously argued that smokers should not be coerced into trying vaping, and the most effective way to make vaping more popular and eradicate smoking is through innovation in vaping technology and communication of the relative harms of smoking. Providing vaping as a substitute to smoking, along with clear information on the benefits of switching, is perhaps the most positive aspect of the proposals.

Although smokers know smoking is unhealthy and expensive, a government telling addicts they can’t smoke is unlikely to stop them from smoking, especially when age restrictions did not deter them from taking up smoking in the past. However, it could deter new or casual smokers, and ASH estimates suggest that smoking rates could be reduced by 30%. Additionally, individuals who are inclined to use nicotine may choose vaping instead of cigarettes, which is less addictive and less harmful, thereby benefiting their health.

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