The lifetime ban on cigarettes for all those born after 2009, a liberticidal law?

A bill is being studied in the United Kingdom to ban the sale of cigarettes for life to young people born after 2009 and under the age of fifteen today.

The lifetime ban on cigarettes for all those born after 2009, a liberticidal law?

A bill is being studied in the United Kingdom to ban the sale of cigarettes for life to young people born after 2009 and under the age of fifteen today.

According to the World Health Organization, one billion people worldwide smoke. Tobacco remains the leading cause of preventable death in the world. One person dies every four seconds from smoking. For several years now, anti-smoking measures have been intensified. Promotion of electronic cigarettes, increase in package prices, the proportion of smokers is decreasing.

However, the United Kingdom wants to go even further. MPs voted this Tuesday, April 16, in favor of a bill along these lines. Their goal: to be the first country to create a new tobacco-free generation. Thus, in this bill, young people born after 2009, aged under fifteen today, would never be legally sold cigarettes. If the text is finally adopted, cigarettes will be banned from sale for life to young people of the new generation. The text also plans to fight against vaping with restrictions on the flavors of electronic cigarettes and modifications to the packaging to make them less attractive.

The Minister of Health sees in this bill a real ambition to protect future generations. “It is our responsibility, our duty, to protect the next generation,” said Victoria Atkins, at the opening of proceedings in Westminster on Tuesday afternoon, Huffpost reported. According to the government, four in five smokers who started smoking before the age of twenty in the United Kingdom remain addicted for the rest of their lives. It would therefore be preferable for young people never to start so as not to take the risk of not being able to stop.

Is such a measure really applicable and effective? In New Zealand, a similar attempt was a failure. A law passed in 2022 banning the sale of cigarettes to anyone born after 2008 was finally abandoned in 2023. In addition, the opposition denounces a bill going against individual freedoms. Liz Truss, former head of government, said: "We are a free country. We should not be the ones telling people not to smoke."

Another opposition argument that is emerging: the risk of creating a significant black market. As is the case with drugs, illegal sales networks could develop to circulate cigarettes to young people. As reported by Le Point, this is notably the point of view of Simon Clarke, Conservative MP, who also believes that this bill will no longer make any sense in a few years. “If the law is passed, it will not last more than a decade in its current form, because, in ten years, people will realize how stupid it is to ask people aged 29 or 30 their identity card to differentiate their age,” explained the MP. This can also be a problem in families where some will be allowed to buy cigarettes and others will not.

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