The Sunday Telegraph

Churchill would back PM’s smoking ban, minister insists


SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL is thought to have enjoyed 160,000 cigars during his life but that would not have stopped him backing Rishi Sunak’s smoking ban, the Health Secretary has claimed.

As a Tory rebellion looms over plans that would effectivel­y ban anyone now aged 14 or younger from ever buying tobacco, Victoria Atkins has insisted that the wartime prime minister and noted bon viveur would approve of the measure.

Writing in The Telegraph, she said: “Is this policy Conservati­ve, some have asked? I profoundly believe it is. In doing so I draw inspiratio­n from the words of a brilliant former Daily Telegraph correspond­ent, who became our greatest prime minister.

“I am referring, of course, to Winston Churchill, who once wrote of his relief from passing from ‘the tossing sea of Cause and Theory to the firm ground of Result and Fact’.”

She added: “One of the foundation­s of the Conservati­ve Party is that we take tough decisions to protect future generation­s. That applies to the burdens of debt repayments and growing the economy. It should apply to addiction too.”

She made the remarks as Mr Sunak faces the prospect of “up to 100 MPs” as well as several senior ministers refusing to back his legislatio­n, which will be debated in the Commons on Tuesday.

The Prime Minister may have to rely on Labour’s support to get the measure through Parliament.

Under the plans, the legal age at which people can purchase cigarettes will rise annually from the age of 18. Disposable vapes will also be banned, while reusable ones will be limited to four flavours. Critics described the policy as an extension of the nanny state, with Boris Johnson calling it “nuts” . “When the party of Winston Churchill wants to ban cigars, donnez-moi un break,” Mr Johnson said this week.

Ms Atkins’s claims were flatly rejected by Churchill’s grandson, Lord Soames, who said he “certainly wouldn’t have approved” of the measure.

“To bring my grandfathe­r into it is ridiculous. We all know what the risks are [of smoking] and there is no need to do this,” he said.

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