UK wants to ban younger generations from smoking

The UK's House of Commons on Tuesday voted 383 to 67 in favour of a bill banning future generations from buying tobacco products. The minimum age for purchase is to be gradually raised, making it illegal for anyone born after 2009 to purchase cigarettes and other such products. The bill has reignited the debate about a 'nanny state'. Where are the limits for state intervention in citizens' private lives?

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The Independent (GB) /

This goes too far

The Independent sees an absurd looming:

“There is evidence that cigarettes are becoming increasingly fashionable among young people again, after a long period in which they tended to be seen as uncool. So keep putting up the price. ... But an absolute ban? That goes too far. ... The plan for a minimum age that rises each year would have some curious effects. It would mean an arbitrary division of adults between those allowed to buy tobacco and those not allowed to. It seems odd to imagine a 41-year-old asking a 42-year-old to buy cigarettes for them, and the reason for this is that it violates the normal principle that all adults should be treated the same.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Will ban trigger a black market boom?

The measure is reminiscent of Prohibition in the United States, La Stampa observes:

“In 1919, a constitutional amendment was passed to ban the production, sale, import and transport of alcohol. The result was a boom in smuggling and on the black market and an enormous boost to the power of gangsters. ... The situation became untenable, and in 1933 alcohol was legalised once more. ... The uncertainty about the new British law is precisely this: will it be effective or will it only encourage the black market and smuggling?”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

Less freedom please

Now at last it's clear what Brexit was all about, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung comments mockingly:

“It's not true that the British wanted less regulation. They want more! If they'd said that straight away, the whole circus with the referendum, the Withdrawal Agreement, the Northern Ireland Protocol and new agreements on bilateral relations could have been avoided. If it was all about putting out Churchill's cigar for all eternity, surely a legal ashtray could have been found for it in the Brussels Council. Or is the Tobexit supposed to finally take the pressure off the National Health Service because the millions on Johnson's bus are not forthcoming? In Britain, we learn, freedom means being able to restrict it yourself.”

The Spectator (GB) /

Bans are unnecessary

This is a serious encroachment on personal freedom, The Spectator argues:

“Defending freedom often means defending decisions that you wouldn't make, and that you would not wish others to make. The right to offend, to drink, to eat badly, to smoke - this must be defended in a free society. ... Smoking rates have been plummeting without any kind of generational ban, with children less likely than ever to even try a cigarette. The eradication of smoking was on its way to becoming a public policy success story: until the government decided to take down the principles of personal liberty with it.”

The Times (GB) /

Smoking is enslavement

For the Times the 'right' to smoke is cynical and wrong:

“No one who surveys the damage inflicted on humanity by smoking since it was first linked with lung cancer by British scientists in the early 1950s can come to any other conclusion. Addiction to nicotine does not admit choice, except in the act of freeing oneself from it, a testing and often unsuccessful process. Those who mobilise liberty of the individual as an argument for allowing fellow citizens to poison themselves to death by inhalation of tobacco - while poisoning others around them - may as well deploy that argument in favour of heroin. Governments ban all kinds of lethal things. ... Smoking is enslavement, not freedom.”