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Press Release

ASH announces Hazel Cheeseman as new chief executive

24 Apr 2024

From 1 October 2024, Hazel Cheeseman will take up the role of chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH). Hazel was appointed by the Trustees following an open and competitive recruitment process, in advance of the planned retirement of Deborah Arnott, who has led the charity for 21 years [1].

Hazel has worked in senior roles at ASH for over 10 years before becoming deputy chief executive in 2021. She has played a key role in the development of the organisation, including:

  • Establishing the Mental Health & Smoking Partnership: a coalition of leading mental health and public health charities committed to ending the excess in premature death caused by smoking among people with mental health conditions.
  • ASH’s first report on tobacco retailers, including first UK analysis of tobacco retail sales data showing that small retailers make only limited profits from the sale of tobacco.
  • Producing innovative reports on how social housing providers can better support the nearly a third of tenants who smoke to quit.
  • Securing funding from NHSE to support implementation of tobacco dependency treatment services in the NHS.
  • Securing funding from Cancer Research UK to develop ASH’s work across risk factors, leading to a substantial role in a new UKRI funded programme to address the commercial determinants of health at a local level.

Prior to joining ASH, Hazel worked in the palliative care, homelessness and housing sectors. Hazel has worked for ASH for over 10 years and is a substantial and well-respected figure in the tobacco control community. As Chief Executive she will help the organisation to build on the charity’s many achievements to date, while steering ASH through an evolving political landscape and strategy refresh.

Commenting on the appointment, ASH Chair Prof Nick Hopkinson, said:

“We are delighted to appoint Hazel from a highly competitive field of candidates. Under Deborah, ASH has been a force for change over the last 21 years and we owe her a debt of gratitude for the contribution she has made to the nation’s health. Hazel will continue that work ensuring that no group is left behind as we move towards being a country where smoking is obsolete.”

Hazel Cheeseman said:

“This is an incredibly exciting time to take up the helm at ASH. Deborah’s achievements over the last two decades have been extraordinary and with the continued progress of the Tobacco and Vapes Bill we are on track to be the first country in the world to phase out the sale of tobacco. The question for the coming years will not be if we can become a smokefree country but just how quickly this can be achieved.”

Deborah Arnott said:

“The future of ASH is in safe hands. Hazel is very well connected and greatly respected in the health community, with all the knowledge, skills and expertise needed to lead the organisation. Having worked closely with her for over 10 years I know that she will be an excellent chief executive, and more than that will be an innovative public health leader, breaking new ground for ASH and accelerating progress towards a smokefree future.”


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: .

[1] Full announcement of Deborah Arnott’s retirement: