Labour could ban cigarettes sales if it wins the next election, Wes Streeting has said.
Speaking to the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme, the shadow health secretary said the move could help “get the NHS back on track”.
“One of the things that was recommended to the government in one of their reviews was phasing out the sale of cigarettes altogether over time,” he said. “We’ll be consulting on that and a whole range of other measures.”
New Zealand recently imposed a new law which means tobacco cannot ever be sold to anybody born on or after January 1, 2009.
It means the minimum age for buying cigarettes will keep going up and up.
Streeting said Labour was looking to New Zealand to “see how that works” and was “genuinely curious” about what voters thought.
“If we’re going to get the NHS back on track we also need to focus on public health,” he said.
“What the government have done to the NHS is a disgrace. It’s going to take time to fix it and fresh radical thinking and that’s what Labour’s about.”
The Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) charity said Streeting was “absolutely right” to focus on improving public health.
Chief executive Deborah Arnott said: “Tackling smoking is key as it is still a leading cause of premature death and disease, responsible for half the difference in life expectancy between rich and poor.”
“Ash supports a consultation on raising the age of sale, but also on how it should be achieved.
“The New Zealand option is one model, but another, easier to implement and widely supported by the majority of the public and tobacco retailers too is to raise the age of sale to 21. Both options should be consulted on.”
Ash estimates that smoking costs the NHS £2.4bn and a further £1.2bn for social care,