Almost a quarter of Belgians smoke. How can this phenomenon be stopped? Simply banning the sale of cigarettes to everyone? No, that would only increase the black market, just as prohibition in the United States did not eliminate alcohol consumption between 1919 and 1933, far from it. So perhaps the solution would be to put in place a more targeted measure, as suggested by the doctors of the British Medical Association. That is, banning the sale of tobacco to people born after the year 2000.

Promote smoking cessation by creating a smoke-free generation

The objective is clear, to create a smoke-free generation by simply banning the sale of tobacco to the generation born after the year 2000, and this in the long term. Why attack a generation that is barely 14 years old today? Quite simply because 80% of smokers started in their teens and almost a quarter of English young people between the ages of 11 and 15 have already smoked. This period of life is therefore key to hope for a cessation of smoking, which is why many measures to protect young people have been introduced in the last ten years or so, but they seem to have reached their limits. Indeed, although the sale of tobacco is prohibited at least 16 years the average age of the first cigarette in Belgium is 13 years. However, such a radical measure concerning young people and smoking is not unanimously supported.

A counter-productive risk of an increase in tobacco consumption?

That is the main argument of the critics of this measure, because the same problem had arisen with regard to alcohol consumption among young people. In this particular case, the strict state policy had had negative effects. Some even say that this policy has led to an increase in alcohol consumption by young people rather than having been a deterrent. As a result, the British eventually questioned this very restrictive policy. It is difficult to predict this, especially since the effects of such a measure would be observed over the long term.

However, the British are not the only ones thinking about such a measure, since the state of Tasmania in Australia and Singapore would be prepared to implement such a law. On a positive note, however, one factor has led to an historic drop in tobacco consumption among young people in recent years.

The electronic cigarette is driving down youth smoking. Indeed, with its youthful look, its 2.0 trend with its USB charger, its original taste and liquid, the e-cigarette has made the old paper cigarette full of tobacco old-fashioned. It is therefore a conclusion that is far from trivial and that politicians should take into account in their fight against tobacco. Far from being a miracle solution, which it is not, the electronic cigarette could perhaps be used to further divert young people from tobacco.