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Smoking kills one person every five minutes

To mark World No Tobacco Day, Cancer Research UK has released new figures which show that one person dies roughly every five minutes from smoking or tobacco use.

To mark World No Tobacco Day, Cancer Research UK has released new figures which show that one person dies roughly every five minutes from smoking or tobacco use.

The figures are based on data from 2019, which shows there were 124,908 tobacco-attributable deaths in UK, equating to one death every 4.21 minutes.

Modelling by the charity shows that smoking rates needs to drop 70% faster if the government is to reach its smokefree by 2030 target.

Currently, we are on track to miss the smokefree 2030 ambition by 9 years, and more than double that for the most disadvantaged.

Cancer Research UK is now calling for a reinvigorated effort to put a stop to smoking in England, Scotland and Wales. The charity is also calling on all political parties in Northern Ireland to agree on a new strategy to stop smoking in the country, as currently, there is no national target set.

UK on track to miss smokefree target by nine years

If governments are to put a stop to smoking for good, Cancer Research UK says substantially more investment will be needed.

Research by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) found that total funding for anti-smoking campaigns has been cut by over 95% in real terms in the past 12 years, from £23.3 million in 2008/9 to around £1.32 million in 2020/21 (the last full year data has been made available).

This is despite the government’s own independent review into tobacco control finding that there needs to be an urgent additional investment of £125m per year, with the bulk of that going to the services that empower and support people to stop smoking.

Petition urged the government to better fund stop smoking services

Now, Cancer Research UK has launched a petition which asks people to urge the Prime Minister to establish a ‘Smokefree Fund’ that would help pay for the cost of tobacco control.

The charity says this investment could happen “at no cost to the taxpayer” if the government introduced a levy on the tobacco industry, as they have done with the gambling industry.

Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of Cancer Research UK said: “Our supporters are telling us they want governments across the UK to urgently deliver the vital funding required to address the leading cause of cancer and save countless lives.

“Enough is enough and we’re calling on our supporters to join us in signing a petition that we’ll present to the Prime Minister urging him to take bold and decisive action to achieve a smokefree UK.”

Now is the time to introduce a ‘polluter pays’ levy

Professor Sanjay Agrawal, chair of the Royal College of Physicians’ Tobacco Advisory Group, has shown his support for a levy on the tobacco industry, and says the government must do more to prevent people from starting smoking, and encouraging those who do to stop.

“The figures released by Cancer Research UK make for more distressing reading about the significant and avoidable impact smoking has on public health.

“Smoking remains the leading cause of cancer, is a significant driver of health inequalities, and we’ve long known that people experience greater ill health the longer their tobacco use.

“At a time when our NHS is stretched more than ever before, funding for mass media campaigns, raising the age of sale of cigarettes and providing opt-out smoking cessation services to all smokers at any point of contact with the NHS would have a significant impact. We need to be bold – now is also the time to consider the ‘polluter pays’ levy,” he said.

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