Council house tenants could be banned from smoking in their own home under proposals for a radical shake-up of the tobacco laws. A report commissioned by the Government has suggested that 70 per cent of social housing should be designated as no smoking while also recommending that lighting up be banned in outdoor places such as beer gardens, cafe pavements and beaches.
Dr Javed Khan, the report’s author, said that the age of sale should increase from 18 by one year every year until nobody can buy a tobacco product. If implemented by 2026, this would mean anyone aged 14 and under now would never be able to buy a cigarette.
He added that ministers would not meet their pledge to make England smoke-free by 2030 unless such reforms are brought in as a matter of urgency. He wrote: “In the USA, smoking is prohibited in all social housing. A significant proportion of new tenancies and new developments – 70 per cent – should be smoke-free to reflect the 70 per cent of people in social housing that do not smoke.
“Student housing, sheltered housing and hostels for homeless people, and accommodation for people transitioning from prison or inpatient mental health services, should also do the same.”
The Department of Health and Social Care said that tackling tobacco and helping people quit smoking could tackle 15 types of cancers. The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “I’m not going to jump ahead and start opining on different recommendations. This is a detailed piece of work which needs to be carefully considered and then we will set out our view.”
Recent data shows that one in four deaths from all cancers were estimated to have been from smoking – including lung cancer, throat cancer and acute myeloid leukaemia. Dr Khan said: “A smoke-free society should be a social norm – but to achieve this, we must do more to stop people taking up smoking, help those who already smoke and support those who are disproportionately impacted by smoking.”
The Royal College of Physicians backed the review’s findings, while Labour said it “presents an opportunity for a step-change” in preventing thousands of deaths. But Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ group Forest, said “creeping prohibition won’t stop young adults smoking” and the sale of tobacco would be driven underground.
A spokesman for Imperial Brands, which makes Golden Virginia tobacco and other brands, said it would share its views with the Government as part of a consultation but shared “the Government’s long-term commitment to vaping”.
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