In response to new government plans to reduce the number of smokers in England by 2022, BMA Board of Science chair Professor Parveen Kumar, said:
“We have been calling for a comprehensive tobacco control plan and we hope this new strategy will further reduce the prevalence of smoking. While smoking rates continue to decline, it is important we maintain our commitment to controlling the harm caused by tobacco. We welcome the focus on working towards a smokefree generation, which aligns with the BMA’s goal of achieving a tobacco-free society by 2035.
“While we are glad to see developing policy such as plain cigarette packaging and increased taxation on tobacco, it is still worrying that more than 200,000 children and young people take up smoking, the leading cause of preventable premature death and ill health in this country, each year.
“If we’re to stop the 79,000 annual deaths in England attributed to smoking, smoking cessation services and tobacco control measures must be adequately funded yet local authorities are reducing stop - smoking budgets, merging services into unwieldy departments or cutting services altogether.
“Cuts to these highly cost-effective services will only increase health inequalities and demand on tomorrow’s GP surgeries and hospital wards.”
Notes to Editors