Action on Smoking and Health

Tag Archives: England

ASH Daily News for 20 September 2018


  • Just one in 10 of us will be smokers in 2023, say health officials
  • Public health campaigns “incredibly good value for money”
  • North East: Quitting smoking saves thousands of pounds


  • US: Most citizens are still misinformed about e-cigarettes


Just one in 10 of us will be smokers in 2023, say health officials

Health officials have estimated that just 1 in 10 people will be smokers in five years’ time. Public Health England (PHE) said that smoking rates among adults in England are expected to fall from the current level of 14.9% to around 10% by 2023. The number of smokers in England has already fallen by more than a million since 2014, it added.

The estimate comes as PHE launched its annual Stoptober campaign, encouraging smokers to quit in October. The campaign will see the introduction of a free online personal quit plan service, which provides smokers with a suggested combination of support based on their level of tobacco dependency and what quitting support they have used previously. It will be available from Thursday ahead of the official start of the campaign on the 1st of October. PHE estimates that of the 6.1 million smokers in England, around six in 10 want to quit.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of health charity ASH (Action on Smoking and Health), said: “There are almost as many different ways of quitting as there are smokers, but to succeed smokers need motivation. ASH is delighted to see Stoptober is back on TV with a new ad campaign, which will raise awareness and provide valuable additional encouragement for smokers trying to quit with Stoptober.”

Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “Councils remain committed to helping smokers quit, however this is made all the more difficult by the Government’s reductions to the public health budget, which councils use to fund stop-smoking services. We have long argued that this is a short-term approach which will only compound acute pressures for NHS services further down the line.”

See also:
Stoptober, Personal Quit Plan
The Telegraph, Smoking will be ‘eradicated in England by 2030’
BBC, ‘Don’t go cold turkey’ to quit smoking
Rye & Battle Observer, Smokers in East Sussex urged to kick the habit during Stoptober
Viking FM, Stoptober returns to Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire
Downs Mail, Increase your chances of quitting smoking with national campaign
Hartlepool Mail, Smoking-related hospital admissions in Hartlepool hit eight year high

Source: Free Press, 20 September 2018

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Public health campaigns “incredibly good value for money”

Investing money in the Stoptober campaign leads to better results, says Professor Robert West, who was involved in the evaluation of the campaign in its first year. The review into the first Stoptober campaign estimated that it generated an additional 350,000 quit attempts, and led to a “significant increase in the quit attempt rate in that specific month compared to other months of the year,” according to Professor West.

Professor West said that public health campaigns are “incredibly good value for money in terms of public health benefit.” However, he also stated “it’s always a battle for the people in Public Health England (PHE) to get agreements for funding to do it.”

An official report evaluating the 2016 Stoptober campaign sets out a significant drop in media spend for the campaign. The PHE document found “In 2016, competing priorities led to a significant budget reduction for Stoptober. Most notably, media spend was reduced from £3.1 million in 2015 to £390,000 in 2016.”

Source: Basingstoke Gazette, 20 September 2018

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North East: Quitting smoking saves thousands of pounds

With the help of an e-cigarette, South Shields mum Deborah Davison gave up cigarettes in January after 40 years of smoking. Deborah says she has noticed significant improvements to her health and has already saved over £2,000.

Deborah said, “Generally, I feel much better and a number of people have noticed a difference in me. With the money I’ve saved I’ve been able to buy things for my grandchildren without waiting for pay day to come around and when my son started a new job and needed a new bus pass, I was able to buy it for him. I have helped my daughter purchase school uniforms for her children and it’s great to be able to support them. I’m planning to treat myself next year and go on holiday to somewhere hot and exotic.”

Councillor Tracey Dixon, lead member for independence and wellbeing at South Tyneside Council, said, “The number of people smoking in the Borough has reduced in the last five years but it is a sad statistic that almost 400 people still die in South Tyneside each year as a result of smoking. Quitting smoking is the single biggest thing you can do to improve your health and Stoptober is the perfect time to make that resolution to quit. While we would urge people to seek out the support of stop smoking services, vaping can also be an effective tool in helping people to kick the habit.”

Source: The Shields Gazette, 20 September 2018

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US: Most citizens are still misinformed about e-cigarettes

A recent poll from Rasmussen found that 50% of Americans believe vaping is no safer than smoking cigarettes; 13% believe vaping is less safe than tobacco smoking; and 17% are unsure which is safer. Similarly, data compiled by the National Cancer Institute’s Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS), indicated that in 2017, the number of smokers believing e-cigarettes to be more harmful than regular cigarettes had increased since 2013.

See also:
Rasmussen, Most Say E-Cigarettes No Healthier Than Traditional Ones

Source: Vaping Post, 19 September 2018

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Smoking rates at a record low: but not for poorer or pregnant smokers  

3rd July 2018

Smoking rates at a record low: but not for poorer or pregnant smokers

Overall smoking rates for 2017 have just been published for England, and are at all-time low of 14.9%, down from 19.3% just five years ago [1]. This brings the estimated number of smokers in England in 2017 to 6.1 million, 1.6 million fewer than in 2011. This progress is thanks to the world-leading strategy implemented by successive Governments to support more people to quit and prevent children from taking up smoking.

However, the new figures also reveal that there is no room for complacency. Action is urgently needed to address the lack of progress in reducing smoking rates among pregnant women and the growing gap in smoking rates between rich and poor.

One in four people in routine and manual occupations smoke compared to one in ten in professional and managerial occupations. The data published today shows that this gap is widening over time, not reducing in line with the ambition set out in the Tobacco Control Plan for England published last year [2]. The Government is also failing to meet its target for reducing smoking in pregnancy, with smoking rates stuck at 11% for the last three years.

Deborah Arnott chief executive of health charity ASH said:

“ASH supports the Government’s vision, set out in the Tobacco Control Plan for England, of a smokefree generation. But smoking must become history for all of society not just for the wealthy. Cuts in public health funding and lack of treatment for smoking on the NHS mean poorer more heavily addicted smokers, including those who are pregnant, are not getting the help they need to quit.” 

The Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group has today published a report [3] setting out its recommendations for ensuring that the Government target is met, of reducing smoking in pregnancy to 6% or less by 2022. Key is ensuring the right support is integrated into NHS care, something all smokers would benefit from.

Commenting on the report, Francine Bates, Chief Executive, The Lullaby Trust and Co-Chair of the Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group said:

“This report should be a wake-up call. On the current trajectory, the Government will miss its ambition to reduce rates of smoking among pregnant women with tragic consequences. We have made real progress in the past in helping women to have smokefree pregnancies and we must be ambitious about what can be achieved in the future to protect thousands of families from entirely preventable and heartbreaking outcomes.” 

The full report and recommendations are available here. This includes a new analysis of the number of deaths of babies and other adverse health outcomes which would be avoided if government targets for the reduction in smoking in pregnancy were achieved.

Last week the Royal College of Physicians published a report calling for support to smokers to be fully embedded throughout the NHS with the potential to save thousands of lives and millions of pounds [4]. Stepping up the care provided by the NHS would help to address the the big differences in smoking rates between social groups.


Notes and Links:

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.

ASH staff are available for interview and have an ISDN line. For more information contact ASH on 020 7404 0242 or out of hours Deborah Arnott on 07976 935 987 or Hazel Cheeseman on 07754 358 593.


[1] NHS Digital 

[2] Department of Health, Towards a Smokfree Generation; Tobacco Control Plan for England, 2017

[3] Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group, A Review of the Challenge, 2018
Full report:  
Press release:

[4] Royal College of Physicians, Hiding in plain sight; treating tobacco dependency in the NHS, 2018  

True cost of smoking revealed in advance of World No Tobacco Day

30 May 2018

New data published for World No Tobacco Day 31st May, by Action on Smoking Health shows that smoking costs communities in England £12.6 billion a year [1].

The figures show the additional pressure that smoking is putting on the NHS and social care services including annual costs of £2.5 billion to the NHS, and over £760 million to local authorities from smoking-related social care needs [1]. Local authorities can use an easily accessible web tool to break the data down to local level so they can see the impact on their communities [1].

Smoking remains the largest cause of preventable death in England. However, a 2016 audit found that more than 1 in 4 hospital patients were not asked if they smoke and 50% of frontline staff are not given routine smoking cessation training [2].

ASH Chief Executive Deborah Arnott said:

The Five Year Forward View calls for a ‘radical upgrade in prevention and public health’ but this has not been followed through and smokers are not getting the support they need to quit from the NHS. In some areas, Local Authority Stop Smoking Services have been reduced due to cuts in local authority funding. Cuts to public health budgets need to be reversed and the NHS needs to step-up and play a larger role in supporting smokers to quit.

Given the enormous burden tobacco places on society, ASH argues that the tobacco industry should be forced to pay to address the harm it causes in line with the ‘polluter pays’ principle [3]. It is estimated that tobacco companies in the UK make a collective annual profit of around £1 billion [4]. ASH calls for the Government to place a levy on the tobacco industry with the money raised used to fund support for the recurring costs of tobacco control measures to reduce smoking prevalence, such as mass media campaigns, cessation services and local authority enforcement to prevent illicit trade and underage sales.

The theme of World No Tobacco Day this year is tobacco and heart disease. The British Heart Foundation has been award the World No Tobacco Day medal for their long standing work tackling the harm caused by tobacco.

Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive of BHF said:

Smoking kills over 16,000 people in England every year from heart disease; a total of 20,000 across the UK. Many more people continue to live with smoking related heart problems. It is vital that tobacco control is properly funded, giving smokers the best chance to quit and preventing people from taking up smoking. A levy on tobacco companies would ensure there is sustained funding for tobacco control thus crucially help to drive down smoking rates.


[1] Action on Smoking and Health (ASH). Local Costs of Tobacco Tool. 2018.

[2] Agrawal S and Mangera Z. Smoking Cessation Audit Report: Smoking cessation policy and practice in NHS hospitals. British Thoracic Society. 2016.

[3] Smoking Still Kills, 2015 – this report produced by ASH and funded by Cancer Research UK and endorsed by 129 organisations, set out the case for making the ‘polluter pay’ and placing a levy on the tobacco industry to fund work to reduce the number of people who smoke.

[4] Branston JR, Gilmore AB. The extreme profitability of the UK tobacco market and the rationale for a new tobacco levy. University of Bath. 2015.

ASH Welcomes New Tobacco Control Plan for England: Funding needed for it to succeed

18 July 2017

Action on Smoking and Health has welcomed the Government’s new Tobacco Control Plan for England, “Towards a Smokefree Generation”, published today. [1] The previous Plan expired at the end of 2015, and pressure has been growing from parliament and the public health community for the Government to renew its commitment to tackling smoking. There is also strong public support, with 76% supporting continued government action to limit smoking. [2]

ASH particularly welcomes the Government’s vision of a “smokefree generation”, defined as a smoking prevalence rate of 5% or less. Since the introduction of the last Tobacco Control Plan smoking rates have fallen from 20.2% [3] to 15.5% [4] and if this rate of decline can be sustained a smokefree generation could be achieved by 2030.

Over the next five years until the end of 2022 the targets are to:

  • Reduce smoking prevalence among adults from 15.5% to 12% or less
  • Reduce the proportion of 15 year olds who regularly smoke from 8% to 3% or less
  • Reduce the prevalence of smoking in pregnancy from 10.7% to 6% or less

Deborah Arnott ASH Chief Executive said:

“ASH congratulates Steve Brine for showing his commitment to tobacco control by getting the new Plan published only weeks after taking over as Public Health Minister. The vision of a “smokefree generation” it sets out is a welcome step change in ambition from the last Tobacco Control Plan for England and should be achievable by 2030.”

 The Plan calls for a shift in emphasis from national to local action in order to achieve the vision of a “smokefree generation”. But this comes at a time of severe government cuts in public health funding which threaten successful implementation of the Plan.

 Commenting on this Deborah Arnott said:

“Funding must be found if the Government is to achieve its vision of a “smokefree generation”. The tobacco industry should be made to pay a through a licence fee on the ‘polluter pays’ principle. Tobacco manufacturers are some of the most profitable companies on earth; they can easily afford the costs of radical action to drive down smoking rates.”  

The Plan sets out specific commitments including to:

  • Continue to use mass media campaigns to promote smoking cessation and raise awareness of the harms of smoking.
  • Reduce the inequality gap in smoking prevalence between those in routine and manual occupations and the general population
  • Provide access to training for all health professionals on how to help patients quit smoking.
  • Promote links to “stop smoking” services across the health and care system and full implementation of all relevant NICE guidelines by 2022.
  • Implement comprehensive smokefree policies, including integrated tobacco dependence treatment pathways, in all mental health services by 2018; and improve data on smoking and mental health; in order to better support people with mental health conditions to quit smoking.
  • Maximise the availability of safer alternatives to smoking.
  • Maintain high duty rates for tobacco products to make tobacco less affordable.
  • Continue to uphold its obligations under the WHO FCTC.

The Plan highlights the challenges:

  • There are still 7.3 million smokers in England, and more than 200 people a day die from smoking related illness that could have been prevented.
  • The difference in life expectancy between people in the poorest and richest social groups in England is about 9 years on average, and the difference in smoking rates accounts for about half this difference.
  • Smoking costs our economy in excess of £11 billion a year, including £2.5 billion to the NHS, £5.3 billion to employers (because of lost output due to sickness and smoking breaks), £4.1 billion to the wider society due to lost output. There are further costs including around £760 million from increased social care costs to local councils.

The last Spending Review in 2015 announced cuts in public health funding of 3.9% a year amounting to a real terms reduction of at least £600 million a year by 2020/21, on top of the £200 million in year cut to the 2015/16 budget.[5]  A November 2016 survey of local authority tobacco control leads in England [6] found significant budget cuts for smoking cessation services and that in a growing number of authorities there is no longer a specialist stop smoking service accessible to all smokers.  A recent analysis by the King’s Fund found that in 2017/18 local authority funding for wider tobacco control faces cuts of more than 30% and that stop smoking services is one of the top four services in absolute planned cuts (£16 million). [7]

Collective action by local authorities working together on tobacco control, as encouraged by the Plan, has been very effective in the North East [8] and can deliver economies of scale. However, local authorities facing such severe cuts cannot deliver public health improvement without support from the NHS. The Plan sets out a clear role set out for the NHS in supporting smokers to quit. The NHS must now live up to the commitment set out in the Five Year Forward View to a “radical upgrade in prevention and public health”. [9]

Furthermore ASH urges the government to introduce licensing of the tobacco industry at all levels from manufacturers to wholesalers and retail outlets. [10] Opinion poll results show 76% of the public support the licensing of tobacco retailers, and 71% support requiring tobacco manufacturers to pay for the costs of regulation of the industry. [2] The four major tobacco companies are some of the most profitable businesses [11] in the world, and could easily afford to pay more, through a licence system, to mitigate the damage their products cause, on the “polluter pays” principle.


 Notes and Links:

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.

ASH staff are available for interview and have an ISDN line. For more information   contact ASH on 020 7404 0242 or out of hours Deborah Arnott on 07976 935 987 or Hazel Cheeseman on 07754 358 593.

[1] Towards a smoke-free generation: tobacco control plan for England. Department of Health. July 2017

[2] Smokefree: The First Ten Years. ASH. June 2017. Opinion research carried out by YouGov for ASH. Total sample size was 12696 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 16th February 2017 and 19th March 2017

[3] HM Government. Healthy Lives Healthy Futures: A Tobacco Control Plan for England. March 2011.

[4] Statistics on smoking in England: NHS Digital 2017

[5] Impact of the 2015 Spending Review on health and social care. Joint submission to the Health Select Committee by the Nuffield Trust, Health Foundation and the King’s Fund. 17 December 2015

[6] A survey of local authority tobacco control leads in England November 2016, conducted by ASH, funded by Cancer Research UK

[7] David Buck. Chickens Coming Home to Roost: local government public health budgets for 2017/18.  King’s Fund 12 July 2017.

[8] Fresh North East. Achievements.

[9] NHS England. Five Year Forward View. October 2014.

[10] ASH response to HMRC Consultation on Tobacco Illicit Trade Protocol – licensing of equipment and the supply chain. May 2016.

[11] Branston, JR. and Gilmore, A. The extreme profitability of the UK tobacco market and the rationale for a new tobacco levy. University of Bath, 2015.

UK Tobacco Control Policy and Expenditure: An overview

Health policy is largely formulated and implemented by the devolved administrations of each of the member countries of the United Kingdom. However, as tobacco falls within the remit of a number of different government departments: e.g. Treasury, Business, HMRC as well as Health, tobacco control policy is partly determined at UK-wide level and partly by the devolved administrations. The four nations of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have responsibility for their own smoking cessation and health education campaigns while UK-wide policy and law applies to taxation, smuggling, advertising, and consumer protection issues such as the provision of health warnings on tobacco packaging. Some of these measures are determined by European Union legislation.

UK Tobacco Control Policy and Expenditure: An overview

ASH Briefing on Tobacco Vending Machines

The sale of tobacco products from vending machines became illegal in England from 1 October 2011. This briefing explains the background to the law and why it was introduced.

ASH Briefing on Tobacco Vending Machines