The party say a New Zealand-style gradual ban on tobacco is among the measures they’re considering
The sale of cigarettes could be phased out under Labour proposals to improve public health and ease the pressure on the NHS.
Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said the party will consult on a package of measures, including a New Zealand-style gradual ban on tobacco.
Smoking costs the health service billions each year and reducing its prevalence could free up much-needed cash.
The Government target of getting the adult smoking rate down to 5% or under in England by 2030 is widely expected to be missed without drastic action.
Mr Streeting suggested cigarette sales could eventually be outlawed if Labour take power.
He told the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg: “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.
“We’ll be consulting on that and a whole range of other measures.
“The New Zealand government are doing it. We want to see how that works. But I’m genuinely curious. If we’re going to get the NHS back on track we also need to focus on public health. And I’m curious to know where the voters are on this, where the country is and what appetite exists for change.
“So we’re going to be… have to think radically. 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.”
New Zealand will impose a steadily rising smoking age to prevent tobacco being sold to anyone born on or after January 1 2009.
The Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) charity, which estimates that smoking costs the NHS £2.4 billion and a further £1.2 billion for social care, said Mr 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.”