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Press Release

71% of adults support the PM’s ambition to stamp out smoking

28 Feb 2024

Parliamentarians across both houses urge the Government to listen to the public and put the Tobacco and Vapes Bill to Parliament without further delay, as polling shows overwhelming support for stamping out smoking in Britain. [1]

The YouGov poll for ASH published today found that 71% of adults support the goal of making Britain a country where no-one smokes (12% are opposed). Support is strongest among those who intend to vote for the three main parties in the general election (72% of those intending to vote Conservative, 76% Labour and 76% Lib Dem).[1] Tables below give breakdown of levels of support for England, with regional breakdowns.[3]

Bob Blackman CBE MP (Conservative), Chairman of the APPG on Smoking and Health said:

“Backbenchers have always led the way on tobacco legislation, from banning advertising, to making public places smokefree and putting tobacco in standard packs. However, this time there is a clock ticking and we need the government to expedite the passage of the Bill to ensure that it passes into law before the general election. He will have the strong support of backbenchers from right across both Houses of Parliament.”

Mary Kelly Foy MP (Labour) vice chair of the APPG on Smoking and Health said:

“There is a strong consensus right across Parliament that we must end smoking and save lives. That is why Labour will put country before party, lending its votes to the government to get this legislation passed before the next election. There is no more time to waste. It is for the government to set the timetable to ensure this is achieved, and it will have Labour’s support in doing so.”

Lord Rennard (Liberal Democrat) vice chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health said:

“Opponents of this legislation argue that it is not for government to intervene in people’s so-called ‘lifestyle choices’. But smoking is not a ‘lifestyle choice’ it is an addiction and one that is hard to escape. Two-thirds of those people trying just one cigarette, usually as children, go on to become daily smokers, and daily smokers are addicted smokers. That is why this legislation has strong public as well as parliamentary support.”

Also today health leaders are briefing parliamentarians on the case for ending cigarette sales to those born on or after 1 January 2009. Their brief, endorsed by over 30 health organisations including medical royal colleges, charities, and public health organisations, rebuts claims that the legislation is unenforceable. [2]

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health, said:

“Smoking is the silent killer that hides in plain sight. Ending this scourge on society is long overdue. The pro-smoking lobby protests that raising the age of sale one year every year is unenforceable, exactly what they said about the smoking ban nearly two decades ago. They were wrong then and they’re wrong now. The public aren’t fooled, they support raising the age of sale, just as they did the smoking ban, because they know it’s needed, wanted and workable.“

Dr Ian Walker, Cancer Research UK’s executive director of policy, said:

“Smoking rates fall with Government action. This legislation will place the UK on the right side of history, leading the world to help end cancers caused by tobacco.

“Smoking kills one person every five minutes in the UK, and is the single biggest cause of health inequalities. Bold action on tobacco will not only save lives, but help to support the NHS and benefit the economy, and importantly, it has strong support from the public.”

Dr Charmaine Griffiths, chief executive at the British Heart Foundation said:

“We welcome the Government’s pledge to raise the age of sale for tobacco every year and take action to make vaping less appealing to young people. We know the vast majority of the public back this Bill, and we urge the Government to wait no longer before tabling this life-saving legislation.”

“It is shocking that today smoking still takes so, so many lives across the UK, and tough measures must be taken to ensure future generations don’t die early because of tobacco.”


Notes to the Editor

Action on Smoking and Health is a health charity working to eliminate the harm caused by tobacco use. For more information see: ASH receives funding for its programme of work from Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation.

Contact: . Deborah Arnott, chief executive, Hazel Cheeseman Deputy Chief Executive are available for media interviews


[1] News story 4 October 2023. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “I want to build a better and brighter future for our children, so that’s why I want to stamp out smoking for good. These changes will mean our kids will never be able to buy a cigarette, preventing them getting hooked and protecting their health both now and in the future. Available from:

[2] The survey was carried out online by YouGov plc. Total sample size was 4,107 adults 18+ in Great Britain. Fieldwork was undertaken between 15th - 17th November 2023. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).Regional breakdown available below

[3] Endorsing organisations include medical royal colleges (RCP, RCGP, RCPCH, RCOG, RCSE, RCM, RCPsych) health charities (BHF, CRUK, Alzheimer’s research UK, Asthma + Lung UK, Diabetes UK, Mind, Mental Health Foundation and the Stroke Association) and public health organisations (ADPH, FPH, CTSI, King’s Fund, RSPH) as well as tobacco control organisations such as ASH and Fresh (North East). They will also be supporting the call to action.

[3] Tables setting out polling data for GB and broken down by English region
How strongly, if at all, do you support or oppose a goal to make Britain a country where no one smokes?

Westminster VI
TotalConLabLib Dem
Weighted Sample41075671205270
Unweighted Sample41076211227281
Strongly Support44474846
Tend to Support27252830
Neither support nor oppose15151314
Tend to oppose7677
Strongly oppose5542
Don't know2111
Region in England
TotalEnglandNorthMidlandsLondonRest of South
Weighted Sample410735449906824971376
Unweighted Sample410735339616984131461
Strongly support444445474144
Tend to support272727252926
TOTAL SUPPORT717172727070
Neither support nor oppose151514161616
Tend to oppose776678
Strongly oppose555554
TOTAL OPPOSE121211111212
Don't know223232

*Any percentages calculated on bases fewer than 100 respondents do not represent a wide enough cross-section of the target population to be considered statistically reliable. These figures should not be used.