The share prices of major tobacco companies slid today after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced new proposals to crack down on smoking.
Speaking at the Conservative party conference in Manchester today, Sunak proposed raising the legal smoking age in a way that would mean a 14-year old today would be unable to legally buy cigarettes in their lifetime.
He said: “I propose that in future we raise the smoking age by one year every year.
“That means a 14-year-old today will never legally be sold a cigarette and that they and their generation can grow up smoke free.”
“If we are to do the right thing for our kids, we must try and stop teenagers taking up cigarettes in the first place,” he added.
Tobacco stocks slipped into the red following the announcement.
Shares in British American Tobacco and Imperial Brands were down 0.46 per cent and 1.29 per cent respectively at the time of reporting.
Both firms did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the news.
The announcement comes the day before Imperial is due to post a trading update.
While investors have been closely watching tobacco firms’ efforts to boost the sale of so-called next generation products, such as e-cigarettes, tobacco companies now potentially face a much bigger challenge in the UK under Sunak’s planned crackdown.