Britain's oldest and most powerful medical college today calls on the Government to set a target to eliminate smoking by 2025.
The Royal College of Physicians says radical measures are needed to curb smoking: swingeing increases in tobacco tax; tougher penalties for tobacco smugglers; and promoting alternative forms of nicotine. The college says the approach "has the potential to end tobacco smoking in the UK within the next 20 years".
The college has campaigned against smoking since its landmark report in 1962 first demanded tough policies to reduce its prevalence.
Despite progress in recent years with the ban on smoking in pubs and restaurants, 10 million adults still smoke, more than one in five (22 per cent) of the population. Over 100,000 die as a result each year.
In its report, Ending Tobacco Smoking in Britain, the college says smoking still kills more people than any other avoidable factor. It "applauds" the progress made in the past 10 years, but says "a great deal more could and should be done".
It says the tax on tobacco should be increased by 10 per cent every year, and its sale restricted to licensed retailers in premises, such as off-licences, from which children should be banned.
Penalties for smugglers should be increased to match those for class-A drugs such as heroin and imposed also on those who sell cigarettes to children.
Nicotine products, which deliver the drug smokers crave without the harm caused by tobacco, should be made as appealing and attractive as possible. That means devising new nicotine inhalers which deliver the "hit" obtained from a cigarette, and reducing the price of all nicotine products. A regulatory authority should be established, the report says, and "low-cost, single-day nicotine packs" should be available from shops everywhere.
Professor John Britton, chair of the college's tobacco advisory group, which produced the report, said: "Now is the time to say we need to get rid of this. We could do it if we did everything we know how to do."