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The United Kingdom’s prime minister is making eradication of smoking a top priority.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak explained Wednesday his proposition to ban cigarettes for a minimum age — then raise that age by one, year after year.
“People take up cigarettes when they’re young. Four in five smokers have started by the time they’re 20,” he said. “Later, the vast majority try to quit … if we could break that cycle, if we could stop the start, then we would be on our way to ending the biggest cause of preventable death and disease in our country.”
UK PRIME MINISTER SAYS COUNTRY SHOULDN’T ‘BE BULLIED’ INTO BELIEVING THERE ARE MORE THAN 2 GENDERS
Britain’s Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak speaks during an interview before departing the European Political Community (EPC) Summit in Bulboaca, near Chisinau, Moldova. (Carl Court, Pool via AP)
The current minimum age to purchase cigarettes or vape products in the UK is 18. The proposal also says that children who turn 14 this year and younger would never be legally allowed to purchase a pack of smokes.
The policy would not criminalize smoking, and anyone currently able to purchase cigarettes would be legally allowed to continue purchasing them for the rest of their lives.
The proposal only applies to citizens living in England — those living in other countries of the United Kingdom would not be subject to the progressive ban.
UK PRIME MINISTER SAYS NO IMMEDIATE PLANS TO SEND BRITISH TROOPS TO UKRAINE
A display of cigarette packets and tobacco products on March 9, 2011 in London, England. ((Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images))
Sunak told his fellow party members at a conference that his goal is to “stop teenagers taking up cigarettes in the first place.”
Smoking in the UK has declined by two-thirds since the 1970s. Nowadays, only 13% of the country smokes, though e-cigarettes and vaping are on the rise among youth.
A man is engulfed as he vapes during lunchtime in central London. ((Photo by Tolga Akmen / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images))
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The British government previously raised the smoking age from 16 to 18 years old in 2007.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Timothy Nerozzi is a writer for Fox News Digital. You can follow him on Twitter @timothynerozzi and can email him at [email protected]