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Rishi Sunak’s bill to combat smoking clears first hurdle, reports ET HealthWorld

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Rishi Sunak's anti-smoking bill passes first hurdle, ET HealthWorld

The British government’s proposed smoking ban, which aims to prevent young people from ever smoking, passed its first hurdle in Parliament on Tuesday despite opposition from some members of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservative Party. The bill, revealed by Sunak last year, would forbid the sale of tobacco products to anyone born on or after January 1, 2009, making Britain one of the world’s strictest anti-smoking law enforcers.

Following an afternoon of debate, lawmakers voted late on Tuesday to give the bill a second reading by a vote of 383 to 67. The plan also includes measures to curb teenage vaping, such as limiting the flavors of disposable vapes and outlawing their sale to prevent nicotine addiction in kids. Despite opposition from some Conservative Party members and the smokers’ rights advocacy group FOREST, health specialists overwhelmingly supported the bill.

Prominent Conservative figures like Liz Truss and Boris Johnson, Sunak’s predecessors, criticized the measures, claiming they infringe on personal liberties. However, the government clarified that smoking will not be criminalized, and current smokers will still be able to purchase cigarettes.

While the number of smokers in the UK has decreased significantly since the 1970s, with 6.4 million people still smoking, smoking-related deaths remain a major concern. Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death, disability, and illness, resulting in almost 80,000 deaths annually in the UK. If approved, the government’s bill aims to create a smoke-free generation in the country.

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