22 Mar 2024

Public health leaders welcome proposals to eradicate smoking within a generation


Public health leaders in Leeds, West Yorkshire and Yorkshire and the Humber are applauding the introduction of the Tobacco and Nicotine Bill, calling it a “game-changer” with the potential to eradicate smoking within a generation.

The Bill, introduced this week, aims to dramatically reduce smoking rates by prohibiting the sale of tobacco products (including cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes) to anyone born on or after 1 January 2009. This ensures anyone under 15 in 2024 will never legally purchase tobacco, even as adults.

While commending the Bill, health leaders stress the importance of swift action and passage through Parliament.

Councillor Salma Arif, Leeds City Council’s executive member for adult social care, public health and active lifestyles, said:

“We fully support this Bill and are confident that raising the age of sale of tobacco products will delay smoking uptake in Leeds and reduce the number of young people who start smoking in the first place.”

Victoria Eaton, Leeds City Council’s director of public health, said:

“Our children deserve protection from tobacco, a uniquely lethal consumer product. Tobacco kills up to two in three long-term users when used as intended and places a significant burden on health, social care and the wider economy, damaging productivity through early disease and death. Children who live with someone who smokes are four times more likely to become smokers themselves. Most people who smoke started in childhood.”

Rachel Spencer-Henshall, West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership’s public health director lead, said:

“Most smokers start young and get ensnared by addiction. The Bill's proposals, with strong public backing, can break this cycle. This Bill is a game-changer. We, in West Yorkshire, fully support it. It has the power to save lives in our communities for generations.”

Smoking remains a significant public health challenge in the UK, causing serious illnesses and premature deaths. Data shows most smokers begin as teenagers. While vaping can aid smoking cessation and poses a small fraction of the risks of smoking, it is not completely risk-free, particularly for people who have never smoked.

Health leaders emphasise protecting children from the dangers of tobacco use. By implementing preventative measures like smoking cessation support and addressing youth vaping, significant progress can be made towards a smoke-free future.

Leeds City Council responded in favour of the smoke-free generation plans during a consultation phase in 2023, encouraging other local organisations, partners and the public to engage in the consultation process too.


For media enquiries contact:

Leeds City Council Communications team