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Public Supports Government Fag Ban

The public support the proposed age-related rolling ban on cigarette sales, according to Action on Smoking and Health, but the industry and retailers aren’t so keen

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The public supports the recently proposed age-related rolling ban on cigarette sales, according to the latest findings released by Action on Smoking and Health. Retailers, on the other hand, fear that it will lead to extra costs and decreased business, while tobacco company funded “consumer group” Forest says the proposals are “two fingers to working class people across the country”.

In Public support for Government action on tobacco in Great Britain: Results of the 2023 ASH Smokefree survey, Action on Smoking and Health shows support for government action on tobacco in Great Britain broken down by voting intention from a survey of 12,000 British adults.

Action on Smoking and Health says: “Three quarters of adults in England and Scotland (75%) support their government’s smokefree ambition, and 69% of adults in Wales, with similar results for those voting in the last general election for all the political parties represented in Westminster.

“More than three quarters (77%) of adults in Great Britain support tobacco manufacturers being required to pay a levy to government for measures to help smokers quit and prevent young people from taking up smoking, with 6% opposed.

“Three quarters or more of those voting in the last general election for all the political parties represented in Westminster supported the levy.

“There is majority support for all key interventions with low levels of opposition.”

The Government has set a target for England to be smokefree by 2030, matched by the Welsh Government’s ambition. The Scottish Government’s target is to be smokefree by 2034.

Research of retailer attitudes finds less enthusiasm – although the study was conducted by a tobacco company (JTI).

86% of respondents say they think the proposals will be bad for business. 67% said the rolling sales ban will increase black market activity and 66% believe the government won’t/won’t be able to commit sufficient resources to implement and police the ban. 62% think it will increase the costs of running a business and 55% say ID checks will become more complicated.

Retailer Paul Cheema told Talking Retail: “The proposed tobacco ban will hit convenience retailers the hardest. We know from recent reports, and our own experiences, that violence or abuse towards shopkeepers is on the rise, with ID checks or refusal of sale often a common cause of this. It’s fair to say that the proposed ban would highly likely exacerbate this issue and drive a further increase in threatening behaviour against retailers.”

Unsurprisingly, the tobacco industry’s astroturf consumer body Forest complained: “Instead of punishing adults who smoke with punitive taxation designed to force them to quit, the government should focus on the underlying reasons why a greater proportion of people from lower socio-economic backgrounds are smokers. Often, it's because of their environment but, instead of improving the conditions in which many people live, this Tory government is determined to force smokers to give up a habit that may relieve some of the stress caused by their environment.”

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, held no truck with the negative comments.

She told The Times: “The tobacco industry is crying wolf, as it always does. The black market is an issue of enforcement, not an argument against introducing tougher regulations. Since the government first introduced a comprehensive anti-smuggling strategy in 2000, the volume of the black market in cigarettes has declined by 85 per cent, despite tobacco taxes being ratcheted up year-on-year.”


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Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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