Tobacco companies should be required by law to fund anti-smoking initiatives, a report has concluded.
An annual, Government-imposed levy on sales profits, and a new five-year strategy are among the recommendations being made by Action on Smoking and Health in its latest study, Smoking Still Kills.
By adopting these measures, smoking rates among adults in England could be reduced to 13 per cent by 2020 and 9 per cent by 2025, says the report published today.
BMA board of science chair Sheila Hollins welcomed the report’s recommendations adding that, while many advances in reducing the impact of tobacco had been made, further progress was still needed.
She said: ‘The BMA has previously called for a tobacco-free society by 2035, and is pleased that this report sets out a range of progressive and comprehensive measures to help achieve that goal.’
Baroness Hollins added: ‘We support this report’s recommendations, and agree that to meet this duty, we must sustain and renew our collective effort to tackle smoking and drive down smoking prevalence at an even faster rate.’
Outlining its vision for a tobacco levy, the report highlights the financial and health benefits of such an approach.
It says: ‘Spending on tobacco control is extremely cost-effective. Yet national and local resources for tobacco control and Stop Smoking Services are far from secure.
‘In some areas, funding for these services is already in decline. A long-term vision to end the epidemic will only be achievable if resources are guaranteed.’
It added: ‘The tobacco industry is in rude health, unlike many of those who consume its products. It is reasonable, therefore, to insist that the industry meets the costs of the damage it causes.’
Baroness Hollins added: ‘Although smoking is becoming less wide-spread, one in five adults still smoke, which costs the NHS an estimated £2.7bn each year, and the wider UK economy around £2.5bn in sick leave and productivity.
‘The job of reducing tobacco harm is far from done as thousands of children continue to join a new generation of addicts, with almost 70 smoking their first cigarettes every day.’
Read the report