Shadow Health Secretary, Angela Burns, has urged UK health officials to consider new rules enforcing a reduction of nicotine in tobacco products to non-addictive levels.
It follows the announcement of a landmark consultation in the United States by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Research has suggested that cigarettes would have to be made up to 30 times weaker to effectively become non-addictive. But Mrs Burns said the “overwhelming number of young people being set on a path to early death or illness” was enough evidence to justify the need for radical action in the UK.
“We have to try something radical to stop people from succumbing to the harmful consequences of smoking, and that should start with banning addictive levels of nicotine in cigarettes.
“I’m stunned that it’s legal to have such high levels of nicotine in tobacco products in the first place.
“I want to see the UK taking a similar path to the FDA in America, and leading the way in reducing the overwhelming number of young people being set on a path to early death or illness – as a result of a product which is set up to be difficult to stop.
“It’s about common sense and fairness.
“Adults have a right to choose an unhealthy lifestyle, but we shouldn’t be making it easy for tobacco firms to unfairly profit from a habit which they make dangerously difficult to stop.”
According to reports in the Daily Telegraph, the largest tobacco producers could lose around $60 billion in market value as a result of the plans in the US.
Announcing the plans, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said cigarettes were the “only legal consumer product that, when used as intended, will kill half of all long-term users.”