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SFL Edinburgh’s Advocacy Against Tobacco Bans in The House of Commons

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On February 7th, 2024, due to their previous work on tobacco and vaping legislation, our team in Edinburgh was invited by the Director of Forest, Simon Clark, to attend a forum in the House of Commons, addressing the UK’s proposed “generational ban” on cigarettes and the potential prohibition of disposable vapes. Four of our volunteers were in attendance: Joshua Cheshire, Dominik Paulus, Jack Hare and Marc-Antoine Revero-Seguin.

The government’s proposal was similar to the policy once adopted (but soon after repealed) in New Zealand, and it focused on preventing underage citizens born after a certain year from ever being able to purchase cigarettes.

“The legislation has had mixed reactions in the UK, with many thinking it is a step in the right direction due to the addictive nature of nicotine, in addition to the health risks caused by smoking. On the other side, it is viewed as a restriction of civil liberties and the infantilization of future adults,” says SFL Edinburgh’s Coordinator, Joshua. In fact, the aforementioned ban can be a direct threat to individual liberty, as it represents a significant expansion of government power into the private lives of citizens. 

The event was organized by FOREST and hosted by Giles Watling, MP who opened the forum overviewing the tobacco ban proposal, setting the stage for Baroness Claire Fox from the House of Lords and the Institute for Ideas, who discussed the proposed bans on disposable and flavored e-cigarettes. Reem Ibrahim from the Institute for Economic Affairs offered her perspective on the legislation as a libertarian, former smoker and vape-user. 

Aside from Students For Liberty, the forum hosted numerous important organizations, such as, Institute for Economic Affairs, the LSE Hayek Society, the Consumer Choice Center and the Adam Smith Institute, with members of both houses of Parliament and their staff also in attendance.

“New connections were made, as I spoke to people from the IEA, Hayek Society and Consumer Choice Center about possible future collaborations,”  recalls Joshua.

In retrospect, the impact of SFL Edinburgh’s involvement in the forum extends far beyond the confines of a single event. By fostering informed dialogue, creating meaningful connections and advocating for civil liberties, the team has played a pivotal role in shaping the discourse surrounding tobacco and vaping regulations in the UK. We hope they continue to champion the cause of individual liberty and responsible governance, so that their influence resonates far and wide, shaping contemporary approaches to creating and implementing public policy. 


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