BARROW'S MP has called for more education after a group of MPs have called for a consultation on raising the age of sale of cigarettes to 21 to end the "tobacco epidemic" by 2030.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health has recommended raising the age of sale from 18 to 21 as part of tougher tobacco regulations to protect children and young people from becoming smokers and help smokers quit.

The recommendations, backed by health charities and medical organisations, also include a "polluter pays" amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill to secure funding for a tobacco control programme, forcing manufacturers to pay to deliver the end of smoking.

Simon Fell, MP for Barrow and Funress, said: "I'm no fan of smoking but I'm instinctively not a fan of banning things.

"I would much rather educate young people about the risks of smoking and drive down numbers that way."

The cross-party group of MPs and peers has warned the Government that it can only build back "better and fairer" from the pandemic by making smoking obsolete and must commit now to the actions needed to secure its vision of a Smokefree 2030.

The report notes that more people are likely to have died last year and this year from smoking than Covid-19.

It also calls for targeted investment to provide additional support to help smokers quit in regions and communities where smoking does the most damage, including those who are in routine and manual jobs, unemployed, living in social housing, or who have a mental health condition or are pregnant.

The report suggests widespread public support for the recommendations, with more than three quarters of the public supporting the Government's Smokefree 2030 ambition.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH (Action on Smoking and Health), said: "We all applauded when the Government announced its ambition for a Smokefree 2030. But that was two years ago, the time has now come to deliver.

"Currently smoking rates are not declining nearly fast enough."