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No smoking signs 2014 2 16x9

Doctors witness first-hand the devastating effects of smoking on their patients.

The BMA has a long history and strong policy for supporting measures to reduce tobacco-related harm, and has developed wide-ranging policy in this area. Many of these have been successfully implemented, supporting a long-term decline in overall smoking prevalence.

Despite this, smoking remains a leading cause of preventable illness and premature death in the UK.

BMA policy on tobacco includes support for:

  • the provision of adequately funded, targeted smoking cessation services
  • increasing taxation on all tobacco products above the rate of inflation and, specifically, increasing the tobacco tax escalator from two to five per cent above inflation
  • a positive licensing scheme to reduce the number of tobacco outlets
  • continued reduction tobacco marketing opportunities
  • limiting  pro-smoking imagery in entertainment media.

Our paper Promoting a tobacco-free society sets out BMA’s position on the future for tobacco control in more detail, and considers the measures needed to move towards a tobacco-free society in the UK.

Further information

  • Key areas of work

    See more on the key areas of work we have been involved in and our policies on each issue.

  • Smoking statistics

    Smoking statistics

    • An estimated 15.8% of adults in the UK now smoke (17.7% of men and 14.1% of women). This is down from 20% in 2010.
    • Every year there are approximately 100,000 deaths in the UK from diseases caused by smoking.


    • An estimated 15.5% of adults in England smoke.
    • In England there were an estimated 475,000 hospital admissions attributable to smoking in 2015/16. According to the charity Action on Smoking and Health, smoking related ill health cost the social care system in England £1.4 billion annually.


    • An estimated 17.7% of adults in Scotland smoke.
    • Smoking-associated diseases costs the Scottish healthcare system an estimated £271m each year, according to calculations by the charity Action on Smoking on Health in Scotland.


    • An estimated 16.9% of adults in Wales smoke.
    • Estimated smoking costs for NHS Wales are more than £380m a year, accounting for 7% of healthcare expenditure.

    Northern Ireland

    • An estimated 18.1% of adults in Northern Ireland smoke.
    • Nearly 16,700 people are believed to be admitted to hospital for smoking-related illnesses each year.

    Related websites

  • NHS Smokefree Pledge

    We’re committed to supporting a smokefree NHS and are key signatories to the NHS Smokefree Pledge.

    Download the pledge