17 January 2024
MPs survey reveals South Shropshire split on plans to increase smoking age

A survey by local MP, Philip Dunne, has shown South Shropshire residents are split on proposals to increase the smoking age, with a majority in support of efforts to phase out smoking altogether.  

Last year, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced plans to bring forward legislation to ensure that children aged 14 or younger - anyone born on or after 1st April 2009 – can never legally be sold tobacco products. The intention is that, by 2040, smoking is phased out completely among young people. 

The Prime Minister has confirmed these proposals will be subject to a free vote, so each MP will be able to vote according to their own view.  

Mr Dunne ran a survey of local residents to gain a better insight into their views on the proposals. Of the respondents, a clear majority of 55% of respondents said they supported the PM’s plan, with 44% disagreeing. 

Of those who responded, most had never smoked, and none of those who responded who identify as current smokers supported the PM’s plan.  Last year’s figures from the Office for National Statistics show 12.9% of people in the UK aged 18 years and over, or around 6.4 million people, smoked cigarettes. This is the lowest proportion of current smokers since records began in 2011.

It is estimated that smoking has cost the NHS in England £2.6 billion per year. Every year around 76,000 people in the UK die from smoking.

While sample sizes by those identifying by party allegiance were relatively small, there were differences by party allegiance. Labour voters were most likely to support the proposals, with 75% of survey respondents in favour, followed by Green Party voters on 66%. Lib Dem voters supported the PMs plan by 60% to 40%. Conservatives were split at 54% for the PMs plan with 46% against; and those identifying as Reform or Brexit Party supporters were most opposed, with 90% against changes to the smoking age.  

Mr Dunne said:

“I am grateful to all those in South Shropshire who took the time to let me know their views. So far, it seems there is a definite preference in support of the policy.

“I was particularly interested to see not only if there was support for the PM’s plan among local residents, but also whether there were common trends among political allegiance, being a current or former smoker, or age group.  

“As someone who has never smoked, I have previously voted to allow adults who wish to smoke to be free to do so. Should the government bring forward proposals for a change in the law ahead of the General Election this year, I shall think carefully on the details of the law, and the answers South Shropshire residents have provided in response to my survey, before making any final decision.”