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Consumer group warns of unintended consequences of age ban for cigarettes

by LLB political Reporter
13th Oct 23 7:32 am

As the government is opening a consultation on a proposed cut-off birth date for the legal acquisition of tobacco products, also known as generational ban, the Consumer Choice Center (CCC) draws attention to the severe repercussions such a law could have on consumer health.

CCC’s Managing Director and Health Economist Fred Roeder said, “The government’s plan to restrict future generations from accessing tobacco products is steeped in both good intentions and willful ignorance of the implications of the illicit market. Just because a product is illegal does not mean it won’t continue to be accessible through illegal means. In fact, when cigarettes are traded on the illicit market, the government will lack the ability to guarantee quality controls”, says Roeder.

“It is hard to imagine a future in which a 38-year-old would not be able to purchase cigarettes legally, but a 39-year-old would be. Aside from the legal implications of age discrimination within the adult population, there are many unanswered questions about the practicality of this proposal, most notable: how are small retailers supposed to impose the measure without compliance costs burdening them?”

The package presented by Prime Minister Sunak does not only include a generational ban on cigarettes but also tobacco products such as Cigars, Shishas and the comparable, much less harmful category of heated tobacco products: “Now let that sink in, you have many former smokers in the UK that were able to ditch the cigarette and switched to heated tobacco products. These successful smoking cessation products will be made illegal for younger generations, while those who made the decision will be able to puff their cigars for the rest of their lives. Hard to see what’s more hypocritical”, stresses Roeder.

“Instead of blanket prohibition, we need tougher enforcement on existing age restrictions for minors and the continued availability and accessibility of harm-reducing products such as disposable vaping devices and heated tobacco products. The UK has a successful track record of allowing consumers to move from smoking to harm-reducing nicotine alternatives. Rishi’s new approach of banning disposable vapes and tobacco products simultaneously will open the floodgates of negative unintended consequences”, concludes Roeder.

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