The government has failed to deliver on its smoke-free pledge to England


Two years on from its pledge to make England tobacco-free by 2030, the UK government has failed to implement the policies it promised to make that ambition a reality, a group of doctors say today. leading professional bodies and charities at BMJ.

In an open letter to the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Health, they say smoking likely killed more people last year than covid-19 and will continue to do so for many years to come. unless the government acts.

They call for a US-style ‘polluter pays’ tax on tobacco companies to fund the strategy, saying “now is the time to charge tobacco companies to end the epidemic that they and them. only caused ”.

The rate of decline in smoking in the years leading up to 2019 was not sufficient to achieve this ambition, they explain. In the past two years, it is estimated that over 200,000 children under the age of 16 have started smoking, two-thirds of whom will become regular smokers.

Achieving the smoke-free ambition “would play a major role in fulfilling the government’s manifesto commitments to increase healthy life expectancy by five years by 2035, while reducing inequalities and leveling the nation” , they write.

The plan to achieve this is laid out in the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) recommendations on smoking and health for the next tobacco control plan, but it needs to be properly funded.

The APPG report explains how a tax on manufacturers could raise £ 700million in the first year alone, without the costs being passed on to smokers, now that we have left Europe. “It could pay for the implementation of the tobacco control plan and provide additional funding that public health desperately needs. “

They point out that in 2019 Imperial Tobacco made £ 71 for every £ 100 in sales. “These are extreme profits, several times higher than those made by other manufacturers of consumer products,” they say. “The time has come to make tobacco companies pay to end the epidemic that they and they alone have caused.”


External peer review? No

Type of evidence: Open letter; Notice

Subject: UK government policy

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