British Asians react to Smoking Ban Bill

Rishi Sunak’s smoking ban bill took another step towards being passed. But how have British Asians reacted to the news?

smoking ban

"I’m always wary when the government criminalises things."

The UK is on course to ban smoking for an entire generation after Rishi Sunak forced through a historic vote in the House of Commons.

The PM needed Labour votes to see off opponents on his own benches, led by Liz Truss, winning by 383 votes to 67.

If passed, the legislation will mean that anyone aged 15 or younger now will never be able to buy cigarettes legally.

This will see the UK eventually become a smoke-free country.

Earlier, Mr Sunak urged members of his cabinets to think of “future generations” and back his plan as he sought to avoid backlash at the hands of his own party.

Business secretary Kemi Badenoch was among those who voted against the plan, saying it undermines the principle of equality under the law by treating adults differently even if they were born just a day apart.

She downplayed suggestions that her opposition to the policy demonstrated she was aiming for a future leadership bid, saying it was “a shame” people would see it that way.

Ms Badenoch said: “We need space for people to be able to have disagreements without it being put down to ulterior motives.

“Everything we do is looked at through the prism of the worst possible intention.

“And I think that’s one of the reasons why politicians feel they don’t get a fair hearing, that many people decide not to do this job.”

For some British Asian people, they believe that vapes should be a priority more so than cigarettes.

Kamilah feels that vaping is more dangerous than cigarette smoking.

She says: “The focus should be on vapes because I see more young people using them.

“They are inhaling metal fragments as well as harmful chemicals.

“If Rishi Sunak wants to create a smoke-free generation, he should look at vapes because I believe they are more harmful than cigarettes.”

Student Maya agreed that there are more harmful things than cigarettes:

“If the government really cared about health, they would get rid of processed foods, processed sugars and rapeseed or canola oil.

“While I’d love to see the back of smoking, I’m always wary when the government criminalises things.”

Ms Truss previously hit out at what she described as a “virtue-signalling” piece of legislation and urged true Tories to reject it.

She said there were enough “finger-wagging, nannying control freaks” on Labour’s benches.

Ultimately, 57 Conservative MPs defied Mr Sunak’s call and voted against the ban while over 100 did not vote.

Ms Truss said it was “emblematic” of a “technocratic establishment” that wanted to “limit freedom”.

She also told MPs that she feared that the “health police” would push on other issues if a smoking ban was introduced.

Ms Truss said: “People are concerned about this.

“They want to be able to make their own decisions about what they eat, what they drink and how they enjoy themselves.”

Ex-Health Secretary Kenneth Clarke also warned that the move risked being difficult to enforce.

He said: “You will get to a stage where if you are 42 years of age, you will be able to buy them, but someone aged 41 will not be allowed to.

“Does that mean you will have to produce your birth certificate? It may prove very difficult to enforce. Future generations will have to see whether it works or not.”

Conservative MP Sir Simon Clarke said the plan risked “making smoking cooler” and “creating a black market”.

Student Aryan agrees with this sentiment as it will prompt more young people to acquire cigarettes illegally, similar to buying illicit drugs.

He said: “This will only make more youngsters want to take up smoking and they will end up buying cigarettes illegally.

“This will be the same as buying drugs and it might cause an epidemic among young smokers.”

On the other hand, Kabir has welcomed the potential smoking ban.

He said: “Smoking has caused plenty of deaths and has been the reason for many people being diagnosed with lung cancer.

“This will hopefully reduce the number of unnecessary deaths.”

England’s chief medical officer Professor Sir Chris Whitty said cigarettes are a product that is “designed to take your choice away” through addiction.

He said: “The great majority of smokers wish they had never started, but they become addicted at an early age and then they’re trapped and their choice has been taken away by that addiction.

“This is one of the reasons why the argument that ‘if you’re pro-choice, you’re in favour of cigarettes’ is so surprising because this is a product which is designed to take your choice away from you.”

His stance was backed by a Home Office minister who took up smoking at the age of 12, who said she had “never met a single smoker who’s glad they did it”.

Doctors and health charities had urged MPs to vote in favour of the smoking ban.

Professor Steve Turner, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said the bill would “without a doubt … save lives”, while Charmaine Griffiths, chief executive of the British Heart Foundation, said: “Decisive action is needed to end this ongoing public health tragedy.”

Tory MPs voting against the bill were joined by 7 DUP MPs, Reform Party MP Lee Anderson, and Workers Party of Britain MP George Galloway.

Some 178 Conservatives supported the bill, alongside 160 Labour MPs, 31 SNP MPs, 5 Liberal Democrats, 3 Plaid Cymru MPs, 2 independents, and the Alliance Party’s Stephen Farry.

Dhiren is a News & Content Editor who loves all things football. He also has a passion for gaming and watching films. His motto is to "Live life one day at a time".

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