George Osborne calls for smoking ban and fruit juice tax

Ex-chancellor George Osborne has urged the government to implement new public health interventions to reduce obesity and cancer.

George Osborne has called for action to prevent smoking and the consumption of unhealthy food and drink.

He has urged the government to raise the legal age for buying tobacco to phase out smoking. In addition, he has called for the sugar tax to be expanded to include fruit juice, milkshakes, biscuits and cakes.

Speaking to The Times, the ex-chancellor said these public health interventions are important to reduce levels of obesity and cancer.

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Government smoking target expected to be missed 

The government’s target of cutting the adult smoking rate down to 5% or under in England by 2030 is reportedly widely expected to be missed.

On banning smoking, Osborne said: ‘You basically phase it out. Of course you’re going to have lots of problems with illegal smoking, but you have lots of problems with other illegal activities.

‘It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try and ban them and police them and make it less readily available.’

He also compared the sugar tax to seatbelt laws or the ban of smoking in pubs, stating that they took ‘a lot of political courage by the different administrations to get them done’, but now no one would reverse the laws.

In addition, he said it was ‘too controversial’ to extend the sugar tax to fruit juices while he was chancellor. This is because ‘most people think a glass of orange juice every day is a good thing’.

This comes after health leaders found that the UK sugar tax prevents more than 5,000 cases of obesity among year six girls.

Introduced in 2018, the sugar tax raises around £300 million a year and has resulted in sugar cuts of up to 30% in certain soft drinks.

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