UK Doctors Vote To Ban Cigarette Sales To Anyone Born After 2000

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In a bold move to better public health, U.K. doctors voted at the British Medical Association’s annual meeting on Tuesday to ban the sale of cigarettes for anyone born after 2000.

Now the doctors’ union is set to lobby the U.K. government to introduce a law, the Guardian reports. And it won’t be the first it does so — after votes in 2002 and 2011, the BMA successfully pushed for bans on smoking in public places and on lighting up in cars with children inside.

Creating a tobacco-free society by 2035 is reportedly the association’s ultimate goal, and the fierce and persistent resistance against smoking could eventually lead to the U.K. being the first country to ban cigarettes altogether—some are hopeful of it, at least.

Smoking is not a rational, informed choice of adulthood,” Tim Crocker-Buque, a specialist registrar in public health, who proposed the motion, told The Guardian. “Eighty percent of smokers start as teenagers as a result of intense peer pressure. Smokers who start smoking at age 15 are three times as likely to die of smoking-related cancer as someone who starts in their mid-20s.”

Opponents of the ban argue that the numbers behind adolescents who smoke aren’t as intimidating as they seem. Yohanna Takwoingi, a doctor from Birmingham said the number of 11 to 15-year-olds smoking has actually halved in the past 16 years, indicating that smoking is actually becoming less of a concern. What’s more, he says, fighting for a ban that will no doubt cause a stir among the public isn’t what the medical profession is about.

“Seeking a headline ban is a headline-grabbing initiative that may lead to ridicule of the profession,” Takwoingi said.

He added that if tobacco was going to be banned, then alcohol should be also. Crocker-Buque’s argument to that, however, is reflective enough of how the public generally feels about the topic that it’s safe to say prohibition isn’t coming back anytime soon.

Tobacco is not the same as alcohol and prohibition will not work in the same way,” Crocker-Buque said. “The vast majority of people who use alcohol do safely.”