Government sets new smoking reduction targets under Tobacco Control Plan
Ministers also want to almost halve smoking in pregnancy by 2022.
England can become “smoke free”, ministers have said, as they announced plans to cut the number of smokers.
Unveiling its new Tobacco Control Plan, the Government set out a range of targets aimed at adult smokers, teenagers and pregnant women.
It wants to cut smoking rates among adults to 12% or under by 2022, from 15.5% at present.
Smoking among 15-year-olds who regularly smoke should also drop by 2022 from 8% to 3% or less.
Ministers also want to almost halve smoking in pregnancy by 2022, from 10.7% at present to 6% or under.
The Government said it wants to set a “bold ambition for a smoke-free generation” as it unveiled its plan for England.
Being “smoke free” means that smoking rates fall to 5% or under, with one in 20 people or fewer smoking.
Under the plan, local areas will be encouraged to develop their own tobacco control strategies and local smoke-free pregnancy champions will encourage mothers-to-be to quit.
There will also be a focus on using e-cigarettes and other stop-smoking devices as aids to quitting.
Public Health England (PHE) will update its evidence report on e-cigarettes and other devices annually until the end of 2022 and include messages about the relative safety of e-cigarettes in stop-smoking campaigns.
Ministers will also use the UK’s exit from the EU to “identify where we can sensibly deregulate without harming public health”.
The report said this would include looking again at the Tobacco Products Directive, including as it applies to e-cigarettes.
Other measures announced include more help for smokers working in the NHS to quit, and working towards a “completely smoke-free NHS estate”.
There will also be more help for smokers with mental health problems – figures show that more than 40% of adults with a serious mental illness smoke.
All mental health inpatient services sites will also aim to be smoke free by 2018, and prisons will get more support to become smoke free.
There are currently 7.3 million adult smokers in England and more than 200 people a day die from a smoking-related illness which could have been prevented.
The difference in life expectancy between the poorest and the richest can be as much as nine years – with smoking accounting for about half of this difference.
Forest | Forest reacts to UK Government's new Tobacco Control Plan https://t.co/b1yFXGsqHx— Forest (@Forest_Smoking) July 18, 2017
Public health minister Steve Brine said: “Britain is a world leader in tobacco control, and our tough action in the past decade has seen smoking rates in England fall to an all-time low of 15.5%.
“But our vision is to create a smoke-free generation.
“Smoking continues to kill hundreds of people a day in England, and we know the harms fall hardest on some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society.”
Shadow public health minister Sharon Hodgson said the Government had “dithered and delayed” over the plan for 18 months.
She added: “Whilst the plan sets out a bold approach to creating a smoke-free society, with a shift from national action to local action, what it fails to do is recognise the deep cuts being inflicted upon local councils who are seeing their public health budgets slashed.
“This plan can only be effective if the right level of funding is found to implement it, otherwise it is doomed to fail.”