The global tobacco firm Philip Morris International (PMI) recently announced its support for a nationwide ban on the sale of cigarettes within a decade. The Marlboro maker also indicated that it would withdraw its own cigarette brands from UK shelves in the same timeframe.
It’s a move that’s broadly in tune with public sentiment: new polling from YouGov shows that close to three in five Britons (57%) support an outright ban on the sale of cigarettes, compared to a third (32%) who do not. And while one in five (19%) are in favour of a ban from 2030 onwards, two in five (38%) want the government to move even faster – outlawing these products either immediately or in the near future.
PMI CEO Jacek Olczak says that government action would “end the confusion” around “smoke-free alternatives” such as e-cigarettes, which the Benson & Hedges manufacturer will emphasise as it attempts to evolve into a “healthcare and wellness” company.
But our research shows that Britons also tend to favour banning vaping products: a quarter (27%) of the public would remove them from sale as soon as possible, while a fifth (21%) would ban them from 2030 onwards. Overall, half are in favour of a nationwide vape escape (48%) – now or later – while just over a third are opposed (36%).
Along age lines, people in the 18-24 group are slightly more likely to favour outlawing cigarettes at some point (60%) and less likely to be in favour of allowing them to remain on sale (24%), while over-65s aren’t far off general public opinion: 39% want to ban them now, 19% want them banned further in the future, and 32% don’t want a ban at all. By contrast, older Britons are most supportive of a ban on vaping products: more than half (52%) of over-65s want to see them prohibited compared to 46% of 18-24s, with a third (32%) favouring an imminent ban compared to just a quarter (24%) of the youngest cohort.
While an outright ban on smoking and vaping may not be on the cards just yet, recent reports suggest that the government is considering raising the legal age of buying tobacco to 21 – and outlawing the sale of flavoured e-cigarettes entirely.
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