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Could the age to buy cigarettes be increased to 21?

MPs have called for a consultation on raising the age of the legal sale of cigarettes to 21 to hit their target of ending the "tobacco epidemic" by 2030.
Could the age to buy cigarettes be increased to 21?

The plans for a consultation come after Oxfordshire became the first county in England to begin the ban of smoking in certain outside areas, including outdoor restaurants - something which, as of Monday (June 7) Peterborough City Council said was not something it was considering. 

There are country-wide plans to end the "tobacco epidemic" by 2030, and the next step for the government is for the consultation regarding the legal age to buy cigarettes. 

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Smoking and Health has recommended raising the age of sale from 18 to 21 as part of tougher tobacco regulations to protect children and young people. 

A "polluter pays" amendment has also been recommended to be added to the Health and Social Care Bill to secure funding for a tobacco control programme funded by manufacturers. 

It was noted in the report that people are more likely to have died last year and this year from smoking than Covid-19. 

The report suggests a high amount of support from the public, with 76% supporting the government's ambition to end smoking by the end of the decade.

APPG chairman Bob Blackman said: "Our report sets out measures which will put us on track to achieve the Government’s ambition to end smoking by 2030, but they can’t be delivered without funding.

"Tobacco manufacturers make extreme profits selling highly addictive, lethal products, while Government coffers are bare because of Covid-19.

"The manufacturers have the money, they should be made to pay to end the epidemic."

Alison Cook, director of external affairs at Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation, said: "Smoking still accounts for 35% of all respiratory deaths in England each year and it is still the leading cause of preventable lung diseases such as lung cancer and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

"We welcome the recommendations in this report, which include targeted support for people to successfully quit this deadly addiction.

"If the Government is serious about reaching its own target of becoming smoke-free by 2030, it needs to do much more by urgently providing sustainable funding for the delivery of stop smoking services across the NHS and in the community, as a broad offer is highly effective in supporting people to quit.

"Without action now, we will continue to see thousands of people die every year as a result of preventable lung diseases linked to smoking."