In a bold and courageous move, the British Medical Association (BMA) passed a motion to pressure enactment of a law prohibiting sales of cigarettes to anyone born in this century. This new ban on cigarettes has caused quite a reaction in the community.
Its vision: to promote the first “smoke-free generation”.
Some opponents of the measure—which was overwhelmingly approved—contest that banning sales of cigarettes will cause hardship to adult smokers, many of whom are working-class. Increasing taxes on cigarettes is a better alternative, one said—yet it has been shown that the cost of cigarettes doesn’t always correlate to deterrence and actually impacts those least able to afford it.
It seems they missed the point that anyone who was born in 1999 or earlier is exempt from the ban. Those already addicted still have a choice.
Another argument raised is the issue of a black market for cigarettes. That doesn’t hold a lot of water, either: cigarettes won’t be illegal, they just can’t be sold to anyone born after the year 2000. It’s already illegal to sell to minors, yet teens are still able to somehow procure them.
People who start to smoke before the age of 17 are much more likely to continue the habit and smoke more than people who begin smoking later in life. The new legislation the doctors want to see will make the laws governing sales much tighter and permanent.
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Most people who smoke begin in their teenage years and become addicted. If no teens smoke, they will probably never want to as they get older. Physician and public health scientist Tim Crocker-Buqué put the reasoning for the motion thus:
“Eighty percent of smokers start as teenagers as a result of intense peer pressure. Smokers who start smoking at age 15 are three times as likely to die of smoking-related cancer as someone who starts in their mid-20s. The level of harm caused by smoking is unconscionable…[the object of the motion is not to] instantly prevent all people from smoking. [Rather, it is to] de-normalize cigarette smoking.” 
The United Kingdom has already banned smoking in public and in cars when children are present as the result of similar pressures by the BMA. If the most recent proposal is passed potentially eliminating any new smokers, and with consistent mortality rates of existing smokers, the BMA projects that the UK can be smoke-free by 2035.
Any number of studies can be cited to reflect the dangers and terrible consequences of cigarette smoking—no one can deny that. Eliminating it from a healthy society is important from every conceivable perspective; there is no good that comes of it. Brought to a purely economic level, $96 billion in healthcare were spent in the first four years of this century as the result of tobacco-related illness. Most people who regularly smoke wish they could stop—but the physical and emotional addictions are very real and extremely difficult to surmount.
The solution to any problem lies in getting to the root of it. If one doesn’t ever start to smoke cigarettes, s/he won’t ever have to stop and the life lived will be a healthier one.