Gen Z demand right to smoke saying ban would hit personal freedom

  • Sunak’s Tobacco and Vapes Bill has passed its second reading by 383 to 67 votes

Gen Z have demanded the right to be able to smoke after Rishi Sunak’s plan to ban smoking for anyone born after 2009 passed a crucial House of Commons vote.

The Tobacco and Vapes Bill, which would make it illegal for anyone born after January 1 2009 to ever buy cigarettes, passed overwhelmingly in the commons last night as MPs voted by 383 to 67 to back the plans.

MailOnline hit the streets of London, Newcastle and Manchester to find out what smokers, non-smokers and vapers thought of the plan.

And many Gen Zers we spoke to – that’s people born from the late 1990s to the early 2010s – were against the ban as an assault on personal freedoms.

But they also revealed their concerns about vaping and its increasing popularity among children – an issue that the bill does tackle.

gen z demand right to smoke saying ban would hit personal freedom

23-year-old Calum from London (left) said: ‘Once they get to the age of 18 they should have their own free will to do what they want’

gen z demand right to smoke saying ban would hit personal freedom

Ella, 22, (right) also agreed that ‘once you get to the age of 18 you should be able to make your own decisions’

gen z demand right to smoke saying ban would hit personal freedom

Rishi Sunak ‘s Tobacco and Vapes Bill, which would make it illegal for anyone born after January 1 2009 to ever buy cigarettes, passed overwhelmingly in the commons last night as MPs voted by 383 to 67 to back the plans

gen z demand right to smoke saying ban would hit personal freedom

Despite government alleging that the bill could save half a million premature deaths in the UK, the next generation are wary thinking that autonomy over their own health is more important

Calum, 23, from London told us: ‘Once they get to the age of 18 they should have their own free will to do what they want.’

READ MORE: Parents hail Rishi Sunak’s ‘smoke-free generation’ plan to stop teenagers using cigarettes and vaping as it passes first Commons hurdle – but critics warn the controversial proposal infringes freedom of speech

He added: ‘The government should take that initiative, they should do all they can to stop people from smoking because of what it can cause. But as I said its free will, just like with drinking at 18 you should be able to do what you want.’

But he also voiced his concerns about the vaping, arguing more things should be in place to stop it.

‘Definitely [they need to do more to stop kids from vaping]. The bright colours are very attractive to kids, I know a lot of young kids who are vaping at a young age.

‘I don’t know how they are getting vapes but they obviously are able to acquire them. There should be [things] in place to stop them.’

His friend Ella, 22, from London also agreed that ‘once you get to the age of 18 you should be able to make your own decisions.’

A total of 165 Conservative MPs did not support the new plan in the Commons, including business secretary Kemi Badenoch and Conservative deputy chair Jonathan Gullis.

And some we spoke to agreed with the rebels, saying it is not the place of Government to remove personal health choices.

Claire, 26, from Sydney but now living in London, said: ‘I definitely think it should be banned in younger children, but I’m not sure about ageing it with them.

‘People have their own choice and their own autonomy to do what they want with their health.

‘I find it really annoying being around smokers, but I don’t think that is the right strategy moving forward [to outright ban it].’

gen z demand right to smoke saying ban would hit personal freedom

Claire, 26, said: ‘People have their own choice and their own autonomy to do what they want with their health’

gen z demand right to smoke saying ban would hit personal freedom

Although the bill did pass the second reading, a total of 165 Conservative MPs did not support the plans, including Kemi Badenoch, the business and trade secretary and a former leadership contender and Conservative deputy chair Jonathan Gullis

gen z demand right to smoke saying ban would hit personal freedom

Tilly, 26 from Hartfordshire claimed that she didn’t even smoke before she got addicted to vaping and was quickly getting through four or five vapes a week

And she also said more must be done to make vapes in particular look less appealing for younger children.

‘The marketing around vaping is geared towards the younger generation with all the cute packing and the designs, I think it should move away to a standardised packaging.’

READ MORE: Rishi Sunak’s smoking ban clears its first Commons hurdle despite backlash to ‘nanny state’ plans by top ministers and Tory Right 

Under the wider crackdown of the bill, vapes are expected to be limited to four flavours, sold in plain, tobacco-style packaging and displayed out of sight of kids.

Tilly, 26 from Hertfordshire, claimed that she didn’t even smoke before she got addicted to vaping and was soon getting through four or five vapes a week.

‘I don’t personally smoke, I just vape. And that’s where definitely more needs to be done.

‘All of the bright colours and the nice flavours and everything. I think it will probably come into law soon that vapes will be banned.

‘It is really appealing. I get stopped by young people asking me to buy them vapes.

‘I actually didn’t even smoke before I started vaping. Everyone was just doing it around me and it tastes nice and then you get addicted to the nicotine and its hard to stop.

‘I am trying to cut down, now only going through one or two a week but before I was going through four or five.’

The move to a ban come after a similar scheme won widespread praise after being proposed in New Zealand.

But in November 2023, the country’s new Prime Minister Christopher Luxon announced he was ditching the ‘world-first’ plan.

gen z demand right to smoke saying ban would hit personal freedom

The plans are believed to have been inspired by a sweeping crackdown planned by New Zealand’s previous government

gen z demand right to smoke saying ban would hit personal freedom

Nadine, 34 also agreed that it is not the role of the government to be enforcing these kind of measure, instead she argued that it should the responsibility of the parent to stop their child from smoking

One of Mr Sunak main priorities for this new bill, is it could save up to half a million lives and relieve pressure on the NHS from smoking related illnesses.

READ MORE: More than one in ten ex-smokers who vape could relapse under Rishi Sunak’s plan to restrict flavours, Government assessment claims 

However, Plumber Ross Andrew, 27, from Manchester disagreed saying it is the individuals responsibility to take care of their own health.

‘I don’t agree with the proposals. The government shouldn’t be dictating what we can or can’t do.

‘I appreciate the impact of smoking has on health and the NHS, but people must take some responsibility for their actions and lives.

‘You cannot spoon feed people throughout their lives as it’s not good for society in general.’

Nadine, 34 also agreed that it is not the role of the government to be enforcing these kind of measure, instead she argued that it should the responsibility of the parent to stop their child from smoking.

‘I’m a non-smoker so I am biased, I don’t understand why people smoke and it is bad for your lung health.

‘But it should be the parents responsibility ultimately. I don’t agree [with the policy], for minors protect them but once you are over a certain age, like 18 . If you can drink alcohol then you should be able to smoke.’

Smoking rates in the UK are now the lowest on record, at 12.9 per cent — or around 6.4million people.

Read more

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