In Focus

Why smoking is back in fashion for Generation Z and a Rishi ban could make it even cooler

As MPs vote on Rishi Sunak’s smoking ban for Generation Alpha, could it backfire and make it the cool thing to do? It may be too late, says Rachel Richardson, who discovers there is already a new generation in love with nicotine and making fags fashionable again.

Tuesday 16 April 2024 11:40 BST
Lily-Rose Depp’s choice of cigarettes over vapes is becoming more typical of Generation Z
Lily-Rose Depp’s choice of cigarettes over vapes is becoming more typical of Generation Z (GC Images)

After surviving 23 days deprived of food, hot showers and a flushable toilet, at the end of last year Sam Thompson emerged from the I’m a Celebrity jungle desperate for one thing… a drag on a cigarette.

The 31-year-old Made in Chelsea star puffed away at the show’s wrap party and joined a long list of cool kids who love to light up. The Bear star Jeremy Allen White, pop star Rosalía, actor Paul Mescal and TikToker Victoria Paris are just a few of the young famous faces who love to smoke. Griselda, the recent number one show on Netflix, is hardly ever without a cigarette, and while these days they may have to huddle outside to enjoy a ciggie, smoking is making a comeback, particularly among Gen Z.

A new study has revealed that more young people in England took up smoking during the pandemic, stagnating the years-long decline among 18- to 24-year-olds. Before Covid, the number of people smoking overall was falling 5.2 per cent per year, but since 2020, the rate of decrease has slowed to just 0.3 per cent, according to research from University College London (UCL).

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