Public Health Scotland (PHS) welcomes the announcement by the Prime Minister on plans to incrementally raise the legal age for buying cigarettes in England. This key step, together with additional measures, will help establish a tobacco-free country and more people to live longer, healthier lives.

Responding to the UK Government’s policy paper Stopping the Start: our new plan to create a smokefree generation Dr Garth Reid, Consultant in Public Health at PHS said:

"Restricting the sale of tobacco is a big step in the right direction to prevent people from smoking in the first place and protect young people from the harms of smoking.

"Smoking results in over 8,000 deaths in Scotland every year. Smoking causes health inequalities because a child born in our poorest areas is more likely to grow up around smokers and is more likely to start smoking themselves. Because tobacco is addictive, once people start smoking it is hard to stop.

"The UK Government’s plans would mean that a 14-year-old today will never legally be able to buy a cigarette. This could substantially reduce smoking prevalence in the next generation, helping to reduce inequalities in smoking, prevent disease and improve population health.

"PHS will continue to work with the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament to develop and implement bold, effective and evidence-based measures to prevent and reduce harm from tobacco, including tackling youth vaping and providing smoking cessation support for adults."

Last updated: 06 October 2023