22 June 2021

Smoking and health 2021: A coming of age for tobacco control?

Smoking and health 2021 says that while the reduction in smoking prevalence by 75% since 1962 has been considered a national success, if the policies advocated by the RCP in 1962 had been adopted and followed through, smoking would have been eradicated from the UK years ago. Instead, modelling of current tobacco control policies shows a failure to achieve a smoking prevalence of <5% until after 2050

‘Too many UK generations have been blighted by addiction to tobacco. To ensure that those born today live their lives tobacco-free, we must take the necessary steps to make smoking obsolete. In a historic time of medicine showing it can solve the health crises that come its way, this is our opportunity to make smoking and tobacco addiction history.’

Andrew Goddard
President, Royal College of Physicians

Written by expert contributors and approved by RCP Council, this 150-page report provides a comprehensive account of all aspects of tobacco use in the UK today in ten chapters, from the effects of tobacco control measures across time, through the effects of tobacco promotion and tobacco company lobbying, to the economics and ethics of tobacco smoking.  Each chapter carries recommendations which are brought together in the executive summary, available as a separate document below. 

The report underlines the need to take action in all of the ten areas featured.  The action we take now has to be thoroughly comprehensive, not piecemeal as in the past.  Health measures are not enough on their own, and the report contains recommendations on reforming tax policy, eradicating media promotion of smoking, prioritising the treatment of tobacco dependency, realising the potential of comprehensive public health campaigns to promote quitting, raising the legal age of sale for tobacco products, and silencing the voice of the tobacco industry.

‘Tobacco smoking is a blight on health and society. The ill health, premature death and financial toll caused by tobacco use touches all communities in the UK, and is typically concentrated in the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in our society. To ensure that those born today live their lives tobacco-free we must take the necessary steps to make smoking obsolete.’

Sanjay Agrawal
Chair of RCP Tobacco Advisory Group and Professor of Respiratory Medicine, University of Leicester

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