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Policy and progress

We are calling on the government to make the UK tobacco free by 2035, but there remains some way to go.

One in five adults still smokes, and it continues to be the leading cause of preventable death and hospital admissions.

Nonetheless, recent gains have been made, with bans on cigarette vending machines and laws against smoking in public places.


Plain packaging in England and Wales

The BMA has long been calling for the standardised packaging of tobacco products. 

We successfully lobbied for Parliament to legislate for standardised packaging to be introduced without the need for further primary legislation through the Children and Families Act. 

We are encouraged that the government has now announced that it will put regulations on the standardised packaging of tobacco to a vote in Parliament before the general election. 

We will continue to lobby MPs before the vote in the Commons.

Find out more about BMA policy and recent progress

Smoking statistics

Smoking graphSmoking is becoming less widespread over time, but it remains a leading cause of death and disease in the UK.

NHS costs are estimated at £2.7 billion each year, with costs to the wider UK economy of around £2.5bn in sick leave and lost productivity.

The figures for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales respectively reveal how the nations compare on the percentage of adults who smoke, and how many deaths and hospital admissions are attributed to smoking-related illnesses. 

Find out more

BMA successes

The BMA has lobbied for decades for greater controls on tobacco products. Catch up on our major successes since 1984.

View our timeline of success

Tobacco news

The damaging effects of smoking and the burden it creates on the health system are never far from the headlines.

Read our news on smoking

Read our press releases on smoking

Lifestyle-related disease

Doctors see the effects of poor diet, smoking and alcohol abuse every day in clinics, emergency departments and on hospital wards.

Read our position statement