PLANS to raise the smoking age to 21 and whack new taxes on tobacco companies could be announced tomorrow.
The measures may be announced following the release of a delayed review into the habit, which was commissioned by health secretary Sajid Javid.
The review has been carried out by Javed Khan, the former chief executive of kids charity Barnardo’s.
Pressure to curb smoking has come after an extra 600,000 under-30s lit up over the pandemic – a rise of 25 percent.
In an interview, Khan stressed a UK target to cut smokers to just 5 percent of the population by 2030 would not be achievable without immediate action from the Government to cut down sales.
Last year, a source close to anti-smoking tsar Mr Khan said: "The stance he’s taken in the meetings I’ve had with him has been quite radical."
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But hiking the age up from 18 and increasing taxes could go up in smoke amid scepticism across the Government, the Guardian reported.
A government source told The Sun there was clearly an option for ministers not to accept the findings of the review.
A second source said as a “general point of principle, the view has always been that 18 is widely recognised as the age of adulthood".
Thursday’s review launch will be attended by the chief medical officer, Sir Chris Whitty, the health minister Maggie Throup and the shadow health minister Andrew Gwynne.
There are 6 million smokers in England.
Mr Javid himself quit smoking last year when he became Health Secretary after Matt Hancock quit over his lockdown-breaking scandal, revealed by The Sun.
A general point of principle, the view has always been that 18 is widely recognised as the age of adulthood
It's also set to make vaping and e-cigarettes more accessible – as an alternative to cigarettes.
And taxing the tobacco industry could raise £700 million a year, which would then be used to provide e-cigarettes on the NHS to help Brits quit the bad habit.
An insider added: "Sajid Javid is interested in health inequality and he is interested in tackling public health issues, but the Government is in hock to right-wing MPs.
"On tobacco, they are still nervous about some kind of nanny state attack.”
Some sources claim that Khan wants the legal age to be 25 – but insiders believe it's more likely that the recommended age will be shifted to 21.
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This comes after a study warned that smoking singles are three times more likely to be ‘left on the shelf’ than their non-smoking counterparts.
Smoking rates have plummeted in Britain to less than 15 percent over the last two decades.
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