Fall in smoking is positive but new tobacco control plan needed for trend to continue

14 December 2016

Responding to the Health Survey for England report published today, ASH said that the decline in smoking among adults and children in England since 1998 shows the importance of having a comprehensive tobacco control plan in place.  [1]

In 1998, the first tobacco control plan for England – ‘Smoking kills’ – was launched. [2]  Since then measures including the ban on tobacco advertising, the smoke-free public places law, and sustained increases in tobacco taxation have resulted in a steady decline in smoking.  The most recent plan, the ‘Tobacco Control Plan for England’ expired in December 2015.  [3]

However, there remains a stark difference in smoking prevalence by socio-economic group with almost three times as many poorer people smoking as those in the highest income bracket. To tackle these inequalities, a new national strategy is needed.

In her first speech as Prime Minister, Theresa May committed to “fighting the burning injustice that if you are born poor you will die on average 9 years earlier.”  [4] Smoking accounts of half the difference in life expectancy between the lowest and highest income groups. [5]

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of health charity ASH said:

“These results are encouraging and show the importance of having a clear strategy in place to tackle smoking.  We have made great progress in reducing smoking, the leading cause of premature death and disability in this country. But we can’t rest on our laurels if we are to continue to drive down smoking rates.  We need the Government to implement the promised new tobacco control strategy without further delay.”



Notes and Links:

[1] Health Survey for England, 2015.

[2] Smoking kills.  Stationery Office, 1998

[3] The Tobacco Control Plan for England, 2011

[4]  Statement from the new Prime Minister Theresa May. 13 July 2016

[5] Fair Society, Healthier Lives. Marmot review University College London, 2010