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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 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

    • Approximately 17% of adults in the UK now smoke (19% of men and 15% of women). This is down from 20% in 2010.
    • Every year around 96,000 in the UK die from diseases caused by smoking.


    • An estimated 16.9% of adults in England smoke.
    • In England there were an estimated 475,000 hospital admissions attributable to smoking in 2015. According to the charity Action on Smoking and Health, smoking related ill health costa the social care system in England £1.4 billion annually.


    • An estimated 19.1% 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 18.1% 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 19.0% of adults in Northern Ireland smoke.
    • Nearly 16,700 people are believed to be admitted to hospital for smoking-related illnesses each year.

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