Nearly two-thirds of people in Wales support raising the age of sale for tobacco

30 November 2023

Plans to phase out tobacco smoking for the next generation are overwhelmingly supported by the people of Wales, new data reveals today.  

Plans to phase out tobacco smoking for the next generation are overwhelmingly supported by the people of Wales, new data reveals today.  

More than six in 10 adults in Wales say they back proposed new laws which would, in effect, impose a lifetime ban on young people ever smoking.  

The planned legislation, announced in the King’s Speech this autumn, would mean anyone born after January 1, 2009, would never legally be sold cigarettes.

With one week to go until a public consultation on the measures closes, polling by the health charity ASH Wales shows that 62 per cent of people in Wales, support the measure. Only 15 per cent oppose the idea.  

Research previously carried out by ASH Wales has already shown that:  

  • Thirteen per cent of adults in Wales smoke, with those living in the most deprived communities more than twice as likely to smoke than those in our most affluent areas
  • Seventy-sevn per cent of people who smoke say they had their first cigarette when they were under 18, and the vast majority of them wish they’d never started
  • Fifty-three per cent of people who smoke in Wales say want to quit at some point 

Suzanne Cass, chief executive of ASH Wales, said, “No other consumer product comes with the devastating harms of tobacco, and smoking kills two in three of its long-term users.  

“More than five and a half thousand people in Wales die every year from smoking, and tobacco costs the Welsh NHS more than £300m a year – none of this will change without bold action.” 

No young person will be criminalised by this measure. This legislation will simply extend the existing legal obligation not to sell tobacco to those who are underage. It will increase the age for sale by one year, every year, from 2027. 

Hilary Williams, vice president for Wales at the Royal College of Physicians, said, “We welcome these plans and strongly support legislation to phase out tobacco sales. Smoking is still the main cause of premature death in Wales, killing thousands of people every year, and it’s increasingly important that we face up to the impact of avoidable tobacco-related illness.

“If you smoke, your risk of becoming seriously ill with many major health conditions is far higher; I am a consultant oncologist and see in my patients the devastating impact of lung cancer. Most people who smoke wish they had never started in the first place – these changes will protect more young people from avoidable illness and early death.’ 

Welsh Government cannot raise the age on the sale of tobacco without the UK Government passing this legislation. 

Suzanne added, “Public opinion and debate has driven governments to do the right thing before and it can happen again.  

 “It’s not often we see such overwhelming public support for government policy, and we urge Welsh MPs to listen to their constituents and use their vote to protect the health of future generations.”