The British Medical Association will vote Tuesday on whether to lobby for a permanent ban on the sale of cigarettes to anyone born after the year 2000, the Guardian reports.
“80% of people who smoke start as teenagers,” said Tim Crocker-Buque, who proposed the vote. “It’s very rare for people to make an informed decision in adulthood. The idea of this proposal is to prevent those children who are not smoking from taking up smoking.”
It is already illegal to sell cigarettes to anyone under 18 in the United Kingdom.
“The idea that free-thinking adults could be barred from buying cigarettes because of the year in which they’re born is both preposterous and discriminatory,” said Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ lobbying group Forest. “It’s arbitrary, unenforceable and completely illiberal.”
The BMA has significant clout in the UK, having already successfully lobbied for the banning of smoking in all workplaces, enclosed public spaces, and cars with children in them.
British Revenue and Customs currently estimates that nine percent of cigarettes and 35% of rolling tobacco consumed in the UK are smuggled–about two billion pounds’ worth of lost tax revenue. They seized over one billion illicit cigarettes between April and December 2013 alone–and government officials are worried that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
“We are worried that not enough is being done by the Government and its appropriate agencies to combat the problem of tobacco smuggling,” read a 2014 parliamentary report. “While there have been some high profile successes, over the last three years the numbers of prosecutions and convictions for organised crime cases involving tobacco have fallen. We do not believe that these numbers are decreasing due to the reduction in this type of crime.” The HRMC reported 156 tobacco smuggling arrests in 2012-2013.
The BMA has been busy this summer, opposing allowing charitable groups to sell alcohol at events and lobbying for higher alcohol prices. (RELATED: Jihadi Militants Ban Smoking, Guns In Conquered Territories)
One BMA member expressed skepticism about the smoking ban, calling it “a great sentiment but…a bit nonsensical.”