The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (“ the College”) is welcoming the recent proposals from the UK government to increase the age at which people can buy cigarettes and tobacco by one year every year. Proposed new legislation will make it an offence for anyone born on or after 1 January 2009 to be sold tobacco products – effectively raising the smoking age by a year each year until it applies to the whole population. This has the potential to phase out smoking in young people almost completely as early as 2040. The College is also calling for governments across the UK to deliver the  funding required for smoking cessation support for existing smokers while continuing to push for a ban on single-use disposable vapes.

Commenting Professor Andrew Elder, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, said:

The College welcomes the proposal to increase the age at which people can buy tobacco products by one year, every year and we consider that this policy is potentially transformative in terms of protecting our young people from the harms of smoking and meeting our targets across the UK to become smoke free.

While much progress has been made in reducing smoking levels over the last few decades, there are still six million smokers across the UK and smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease.

It is vital that existing smokers are regularly offered and provided with access to the highest quality cessation support and governments across the UK must ensure that the funding is in place to deliver this.

In addition, we remain extremely concerned at the potential health impacts of disposable vapes and will continue, alongside colleagues from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) and ASH Scotland, to urge governments to implement an outright ban given their disproportionate use among children and young people and their detrimental impact on the environment.