UK government announces plan to eliminate smoking by 2030
LONDON, UK: A green paper published by the UK government has outlined an ambitious plan for the UK to be “smoke-free” by 2030. The goal is part of a larger effort to help address health inequalities and tackle major challenges like obesity and mental health.
The document states that, though only 14% of British adults smoke cigarettes—one of the lowest rates in Europe—for those who do smoke, it remains the primary risk to their health and the leading cause of early death. Furthermore, smokers are disproportionately located in areas of high deprivation. The paper states that one in four pregnant women in Blackpool smoke, compared with one in 50 in Westminster.
The government is considering the possibility that tobacco companies be required to help cover the cost of helping smokers to quit, a “polluter pays” approach that has already been taken by countries like France and the US. When discussing the ambition for England to be “smoke-free”, the paper states, “This includes an ultimatum for industry to make smoked tobacco obsolete by 2030, with smokers quitting or moving to reduced risk products like e-cigarettes.”
Strong links between cigarette smoking and an increased risk of tooth loss, heart disease, pneumonia and cancer have been established in numerous studies. Awareness of these links has continued to grow in the UK, and consequently, smoking rates have declined. In 1974, 45.6% of British adults smoked cigarettes, according to the Office for National Statistics. This figure has dropped significantly over subsequent decades.