Leaked Government Plans Suggest Smoking Could Be Wiped Out In England In Just 11 Years
It's the UK's biggest preventable cause of cancer despite rates of Britons lighting up halving in the last 35 years, but if Tory ministers have anything to do with it, smoking could be wiped out completely in England by 2030.
Under leaked plans outlining incentives to kick the habit seen by the Daily Mail, governments would impose a levy on tobacco giants, who would be forced to pay the cost of helping people stop smoking or switch to e-cigarettes instead of over-stretched local health services.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock is due to unveil the 2030 target next weeks, which also propose that leaflets giving advice to smokers on how to quit would have to be inserted into every cigarette packet.
The document will say: "The gains in tobacco control have been hard-won, and there's still much to do. For the 15 per cent of adults who are not yet smoke-free, smoking is the leading cause of ill-health and early death, and a major cause of inequalities. That's why the government wants to finish the job."
However should Boris Johnson become Prime Minister on 24th July - which is looking more and more likely as the day approaches - plans could easily be derailed.
The Tory leadership hopeful has already infuriated health campaigners after vowing to review "sin taxes" if he takes the top spot later this month, saying: "Rather than just taxing people more, we should look at how effective the so-called sin taxes really are, and if they are actually changing behaviour."
Another option could be to look at plans for a levy that have previously been proposed by Labour MP Sir Kevin Barron who suggested a "tobacco transition fund" that would raise £1 billion over a decade to pay for public health 'stop smoking' services.
While Britain currently has the second lowest smoking rates in Europe after Sweden - figures from 2017 show that 14.9 per cent of adults are currently classed as smokers compared to 15.5 per cent in 2016 and 19.8 per cent in 2011 - there's still a long way to go to reach the already-released target of 12 per cent by 2022.
At the moment, help to quit smoking is mostly delivered by the NHS or local authorities paid for by general taxation, but fingers crossed these plans go ahead and the responsibility will be shifted to those responsible.
Here's to a smoke-free future...
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