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Press Release

On the 40th anniversary of No Smoking Day young people and those damaged by smoking unite to call for a smokefree generation

13 Mar 2024

[Case study footage and interviews available]

People from across the country are gathering in Parliament on No Smoking Day [13th March] to tell their stories about the impact of smoking on their lives and why parliamentarians should back the Government’s vision for a smokefree generation.

Hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health, the event will include those who have lost relatives to smoking, people whose health has been harmed, health professionals who have cared for people sick from smoking and young people who want to grow up in a smokefree country.

The event follows new polling last week [1] showing that more than two thirds of the public want to see the country free from smoking and new analysis from UCL which found that every day 350 18-25 year olds start smoking regularly. [2] Charities, local councillors and health bodies have called for the Government to publish the Bill to make the smokefree generation legislation law as soon as possible. [3]

Twelve-year-old Rose Connolly from East Yorkshire is attending the event in Parliament to tell MPs why she wants to be part of a smokefree generation. She said:

“I know how dangerous it is because my Nannie died from lung cancer from smoking, and it was painful and scary for her. I remember being in the hospice on the day she died.

“It wasn’t her fault and she wanted to stop lots of times and struggled.

“I don’t want to get sick from smoking and I don’t want anyone else to either – I know it’s really addictive, so stopping people from ever starting is a good thing.”

Bob Blackman MP, Chairman of the APPG on Smoking and Health said:

"This No Smoking Day, MPs will have the opportunity to hear from some of those whose lives have been damaged by smoking and see what a difference a smokefree generation could make. I stand firmly alongside the Prime Minister and his ambitious plan to close the door on the tobacco epidemic once and for all.

“We have a chance to lead the world in ending smoking, something that will transform the health and wealth of people across our society.”

Linda Chambers from Hull will be speaking at the event. As a former smoker Linda has COPD she lost her husband to smoking in July 2022. She will be addressing the Parliamentary event. She said:

“Like countless others, I started smoking at 16, not considering the impact it could have on my life or realising I would carry on smoking for over twenty years. Not only have I been left with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, but I lost my husband too young to cardiovascular disease caused by smoking, eight months before our golden wedding anniversary.

"People always talk about cancer, but there are so many other diseases which smoking causes, from silent killers like cardio-vascular disease and stroke to diabetes and respiratory illnesses.

"This profound loss has ignited a deep commitment to prevent others from facing similar tragedies. I support the Government's plans to raise the age of sale, not just for my family and my community in Hull, but for all generations to come."

Dr Irem Patel, a respiratory consultant, NHSE London clinical lead for Tobacco Harm Prevention, joint Director of Clinical Strategy at King’s Health Partners and London Tobacco Alliance Board member will be attending the parliamentary event. She said:

“I have witnessed heartbreak at the hands of smoking. In hospitals across the country people are struggling for breath, in pain from cancer and weak from the chronic illnesses that smoking causes. If you smoke, search smokefree online or ask your GP or pharmacist and get help to make that quit attempt. With the right policies and support in place I know that there is a smokefree future for all my patients.”

Greg Fell, President of the Association of Directors of Public Health, said:

“The vast majority of people who smoke started at a young age, regret ever starting and have tried to quit multiple times. No Smoking Day is an excellent opportunity to remind everyone that there is support out there and that no matter how old they are, or how long they’ve been smoking, quitting will significantly improve their health and wellbeing.

“This year, we are also using the day to remind the Prime Minister about his pledge to deliver a smokefree generation. The proposed ‘Stopping the Start’ legislation sets out a historic package of measures that will reduce the harms caused by smoking and prevent ill-health, disability and death. If implemented, the proposals will also mean that children and young people are saved from ever becoming addicted to this lethal product.”

Cathy Hunt from County Durham, had half a lung removed when she was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2015. She underwent surgery again last year when the cancer returned and also had a kidney removed after she was diagnosed with kidney cancer. She will be addressing the Parliamentary event. She said:

“If you smoke, take every opportunity to try to quit whenever you can, and get all the support you need. If it saves one life or puts somebody off smoking it will be worth it.

“Believe me – you will look back on those big moments like all the important birthdays, all the New Years and all the No Smoking Days and wish you had stopped sooner. Don’t ever think like me it won’t happen to you.

“This is a huge year, when the government has said it will raise the age of sale and create a smokefree generation. It can’t come soon enough, to stop kids today becoming lung cancer patients in their 40s and 50s. I think that will also give a lot of parents and grandparents an extra motivation to put smoking behind them as well.

“I am just pleased to get the opportunity to share my story. if it makes just one person stop and consider the harm smoking causes, I will be pleased. Too many people are seriously ill and dying from smoking.”


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: or call Hazel Cheeseman on 077 5435 8593


[1] Public support for a smokefree country:

[2] 350 young adults start smoking regularly each day:

[3] Senior councillors join health charities in calling for Tobacco and Vapes Bill to be tabled:

Smokefree Action Coalition briefing for MPs on smokefree generation legislation: