U.K. lawmakers want to require tobacco manufacturers to print the message “smoking kills” on each individual cigarette, reports The Guardian.
Members of Parliament have submitted an amendment to the health and care bill going through parliament which would allow the health secretary to make such warnings mandatory.
“We know that cigarettes are cancer sticks and kill half the people who use them. So I hope that health warnings on cigarettes would deter people from being tempted to smoke in the first place, especially young people,” said Mary Kelly Foy, the Labour MP behind the move.
Foy’s amendments would also let the health secretary:
- Raise the legal age for buying cigarettes from 18 to 21.
- Stop e-cigarette makers using tactics that might entice children to try them, such as sweet flavorings and cartoon characters.
- Make it illegal to give e-cigarettes away free as sampler products.
- Empower the government to impose a new levy on tobacco company profits, with the proceeds being used to fund stop smoking activities.
The plan is backed by Cancer Research UK and the Royal College of Physicians.
Simon Clark, the director of the pro-smoking group Forest, criticized Foy’s proposal.
“These stale and tired ideas have been around for years,” he said in a statement. “The reason they haven’t been adopted in the UK is because there is no evidence that they will significantly reduce smoking rates or discourage young people from smoking.
“Everyone is aware of the health risks of smoking. There are huge, impossible-to-miss health warnings on every pack of cigarettes including grotesque images of smoking-related diseases.”
He added: “Introducing a levy on tobacco companies would disproportionately hurt less well-off smokers because it will inevitably be passed on to consumers who already pay punitive rates of taxation on tobacco.”