UK Conservative Govt Looks to Raise Legal Smoking Age to 21

In this Oct. 27, 2015, file photo, a University of Washington student discards a cigarette into a container at a designated smoking locations on the campus in Seattle. Seventeen public health schools in the U.S. and Canada have pledged to refuse research money from a new anti-smoking group funded by …
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

The legal age of smoking tobacco in Britain could reportedly be raised to 21 years old under the latest nanny state move from the country’s nominally Conservative government.

In the hopes of transitioning the United Kingdom into a smoke-free nation by the end of the decade, a “radical” review commissioned by Health Secretary Sajid Javid could see the government recommend raising the legal age of smoking from 18 to 21.

Though 18-year-olds are legally allowed to vote and indeed to serve in the nation’s armed forces, Javid, who quit smoking upon his appointment as Health Secretary last year, supports imposing new limits on tobacco, The Telegraph reports.

The British broadsheet, which is closely connected to the Tory government, claimed that the report — which is expected to be published within the coming weeks — will also advocate for wider proliferation of vapes and other electronic cigarettes as well as increased taxes on the profits of tobacco companies.

A source consulted in the review told the paper that its author, former Barnardo’s CEO Javed Khan, has taken a “quite radical” stance on smoking curbs.

While Boris Johnson’s government has already implemented nanny state regulations on smoking, such as imposing the EU-drafted law to ban menthol cigarettes and additional taxes on tobacco products, the prime minister is said to be wary of the plan to up the age limit.

A Downing Street source said: “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.”

Though Health Secretary Javid is allegedly keen on placing further limits on the bodily autonomy of teenagers in terms of smoking cigarettes, the government has at the same time vastly expanded the so-called “choice” for women and girls to undergo abortions in the United Kingdom.

In March, the government made the supposedly “temporary” lockdown measure of providing abortion pills by post to women permanent, allowing women to end their pregnancy within the first ten weeks with nothing more than a phone call to the government’s socialised healthcare system, the National Health Service (NHS).

Abortion is also being extended to Northern Ireland, against the wishes of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) which represents the British unionist community and without the approval of a regional government.

Under current law in Britain, 16-year-old girls can have abortions through the NHS, which also advises that “[i]f you’re under 16, your parents do not usually need to be told” if you want to end a pregnancy.

The socialised healthcare system also provides girls as young as 13 with free contraception, again without the need of parental consent or notification — despite it being illegal to have sex with a 13-year-old.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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