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    Politics

    Smoking ban will save the NHS and stop it 'economy', says David Davis

    Sir David Davis said restrictions were justified because cigarettes were “ridiculously addictive”; Photo: Jordan Pettitt/PA

    Rishi Sunak's smoking ban will save the NHS and prevent it from swallowing up “the entire economy”, a former Cabinet minister has said.

    Sir David Davis, civil liberties campaigner, said the proposals, which were opposed by dozens of Tory MPs in a Commons vote this week, would prevent tens of thousands of premature deaths.

    For almost four decades in Parliament, the former Brexit Secretary opposed ID cards and resigned from his shadow cabinet post over the detention measures under the Counter-Terrorism Bill in 2008.

    < But in an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today podcast, Sir David said: “If you were to create tobacco today, a completely new product, what are the chances of it breaking any health barriers you think? None, and that's the whole point.

    “We're talking about something that's ridiculously addictive. The simple truth is, is it worth tens of thousands of lives? Not in the month of Sundays.”

    Five potential Conservative Party leadership candidates, including Kemi Badenoch and Penny Mordaunt, refused to back Sunak's tobacco legislation on Tuesday. Ms Badenoch voted against him in a free vote, while Ms Mordaunt, the leader of the House of Commons, abstained.

    Sir David admitted that increasing the smoking age every year “won't achieve the same results” but added: “If these policies are only 50 per cent effective, and so many government policies across all governments are only partially effective, that's still tens of thousands of lives lost.” >

    “One of the things about conservatism is that it has survived for 200 years because it has kept pace with the centuries. This is one of the biggest health problems. If you don't, the NHS will swallow up the entire economy in another 30 years.

    “Jacob [Rees-Mogg] and many others consider themselves Thatcherites. But Margaret Thatcher didn't for a second ask what other people thought about the policy – she thought: “Is this the right policy?”

    Sir Jacob called Sunak's phased smoking ban “absurd” and warned it would not will help the Conservatives climb the “electoral mountain” they face ahead of the general election.

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    'I I prefer not to smoke every single day – the ban is like a nanny' More details

    A total of 165 Conservative MPs either abstained or voted against it, leaving the Prime Minister to rely on Labor support to help him clear his first hurdle in the Commons.

    Aims of the Tobacco and Vaping Bill eliminate smoking among future generations by making it illegal to sell cigarettes to anyone who turns 15 this year or younger.

    It raises the smoking age by one year every year, and businesses or individuals breaking the law will receive targeted fines or face prosecution.

    Victoria Atkins, Health Minister, last week claimed that Sir Winston Churchill would have supported a ban, despite the fact that he reputedly smoked 160,000 cigars in his lifetime.

    Wes Streeting, Labour's shadow health secretary, has made it clear that his party will move forward with a smoking ban if it happens. wins the elections.

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