- Tony Blair:
If people chose to
stop smoking, they would live longer. Smoking kills.
Yet we recognise that people have a choice. We would
like them to stop smoking, and to choose life. The
detailed proposals set out in this White Paper, the
first-ever in this country on smoking, will help them
to make that choice. I reject completely that this is
the so-called nanny state in action. It is instead
the Government meeting what are clearly its
responsibilities. Smokers have rights. So do
non-smokers. Both have responsibilities - to
themselves, to each other, to their families, and to
the wider community.
White Paper will save lives. It contains arguably the
most comprehensive strategy to tackle smoking
embarked upon anywhere in the world. It represents a
huge leap forward in our efforts to reduce smoking in
the UK, and is a critical contribution towards
achieving the overall aims of our public health
strategy and reducing deaths from cancer and heart
disease. Informed by evidence and international
experience, it covers the whole range of measures
needed to tackle this issue.
have put together a balanced package of measures.
Legislation is used only where required, to implement
the EC Directive on the advertising and sponsorship
of tobacco products. Where possible, we have looked
for partnerships: with local government on under-age
sales, with industry on a proof-of-age system, and
with the licensed trade on smoking in public places.
Individuals have a great part to play in looking
after their own health and that of their families.
believe that the balance is right and that it will
deliver the results we are determined to achieve. But
we will be monitoring the outcomes closely. If it
looks as though some of the measures may not be as
effective as we hoped, we will be ready to re-examine
particular problems and to consider tougher action.
While our aim is to make existing legislation work
better, we will not rule out the option of new
legislation in particular areas if it becomes the
only realistic way to make progress, all other
avenues having failed to deliver enough.
10.5 This is a list
of the measures we are taking.
- End tobacco
advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
tobacco advertising in shops. ... to
protect children from exposure to tobacco
advertising whilst taking account of the need
of retailers to display products and prices
for existing smokers.
- Tobacco tax
against tobacco smuggling.
- Pressure for
European-wide fiscal action. ... so that
we can maximise the effectiveness of our
- New NHS
services to help smokers give up.
- A week's
free NRT on the NHS.
smoking will be a priority for the NHS as
part of a new emphasis on disease prevention.
with the pharmaceutical industry.
- Mass media
health promotion campaign.
- An Approved
Code of Practice on smoking in the workplace.
- Choice for
non-smokers and smokers in pubs and
policy reviews in all Government buildings.
enforcement of law against sales of tobacco
- A single,
cross-industry proof of age card. We will
... encourage the manufacturers of all
age-restricted products to develop a national
- Support for
Europe-wide initiatives to protect health.
industry code to prevent sales to children
from vending machines.
of tobacco products, or events overseas.
- Full support
for international tobacco control work.
- Reform of
CAP regime to cut tobacco growing in the EU.
kills. Smoking is the single greatest cause of
preventable illness and premature death in the UK.
Smoking kills over 120,000 people in the UK a year -
more than 13 people an hour.
and more children and young people are starting to
smoke. The proportion of those aged 11 to 15 who
smoke regularly was 8 per cent in England in 1988. In
1996 it was 13 per cent.
people know that smoking is bad for health. Smoking,
more than any other factor, cuts people's life
expectancy. As well as being the prime cause of
cancer and heart disease, it also causes many other
fatal conditions and chronic illnesses among adults.
The dangers of smoking are clear:
- over 120,000
people are killed a year because they smoke
- half of all who
continue to smoke for most of their lives die
of the habit; a quarter before the age of 69,
and a quarter in old age, at time when
average life expectancy is 75 for men and
nearly 80 for women
- those who smoke
regularly and die of a smoking-related
disease lose on average 16 years from their
life expectancy compared to non-smokers
- for every 1000
20-year-old smokers it is estimated that
while one will be murdered and six will die
in motor accidents, 250 will die in middle
age from smoking, and 250 will die in older
age from smoking. For every 1000 20- year-old
smokers it is estimated that one will be
murdered, six will die in road accidents and
250 will die in middle age from smoking.
- smoking is
dangerous at any age, but the younger people
start, the more likely they are to smoke for
longer and to die early from smoking. Someone
who starts smoking aged 15 is 3 times more
likely to die of cancer due to smoking than
someone who starts in their mid-20s
- smoking causes
84% of deaths from lung cancer, and 83% of
deaths from chronic obstructive lung disease,
- smoking causes
46,500 deaths from cancer a year in the UK -
3 out of 10 cancer deaths. As well as lung
cancer, smoking can cause death by cancer of
the mouth, larynx, oesophagus, bladder,
kidney, stomach and pancreas
- smoking causes
1 out of every 7 deaths from heart disease -
40,300 deaths a year in the UK from all
- smoking is also
linked to many other serious conditions
including asthma and brittle bone disease
- levels of
smoking are particularly high among people
with severe mental illness. This is likely to
be one of the reasons why the severely
mentally ill tend to die younger
- some ethnic
groups in the UK favour chewed or other oral
tobacco, notably betel quid. All forms of
tobacco cause cancer. Treating illness and
disease caused by smoking is estimated to
cost the NHS up to £1.7 billion every year.
illness and disease caused by smoking is
estimated to cost the NHS up to £1.7 billion
every year in terms of GP visits,
prescriptions, treatment and operations.
hundred people a year in the UK are estimated to die
from lung cancer brought about by passive smoking.
smoking, even in low levels, can cause illness.
Asthma sufferers are more prone to attacks in smoky
atmospheres. Children, more vulnerable than adults
and often with little choice over their exposure to
tobacco smoke, are at particular risk. 17,000
hospital admissions in a single year of children
under 5 are due to their parents smoking.
cost of smoking is high in terms of people's health.
But the cost of smoking is high in other ways too.
Smoking is estimated to cost the NHS up to £1.7
billion every year. And it costs families, especially
the poorest, a great deal too. It is estimated that,
in 1996, there were approximately 1 million lone
parents on Income Support, of whom 55 per cent smoked
an average of five packs of cigarettes a week at a
cost of £2.50 per pack. That means lone parent
families spent a staggering £357 million on
cigarettes during that year.
recognise that Government action in areas of personal
choice like smoking is a difficult and a sensitive
issue. Tobacco is a uniquely dangerous product. If
introduced today, it would not stand the remotest
chance of being legal. But smoking is not against the
law. We do not intend to make smoking unlawful. We
are not banning smoking.
well over a quarter of the people of Britain smoke.
The Government fully recognises their right to choose
to do so. We will not in any of our proposals
infringe upon that right. But with rights come
responsibilities. Smokers have a responsibility to
themselves - to their own health, and to ensure that
in making the choice to smoke, their choice is based
on a real understanding of the risks involved. With
their right to smoke, too, comes the responsibility
to others who choose not to smoke. Just as the
Government is determined not to infringe upon
people's rights to make free and informed choices, it
is also determined to ensure that the
responsibilities of smokers to people who choose not
to smoke are carried out. That means a balance of
rights and responsibilities -for those who smoke and
for those who do not. Striking that balance is a
clear and tough challenge - for the Government, for
business, for local authorities, for voluntary groups
and especially for individuals. With their right to
smoke, too, comes the responsibility to others who
choose not to smoke.
Government has a clear role in tackling smoking.
While it is for individuals to make their own choices
about smoking, the impact of smoking on the people of
Britain - on their health, in causing premature
deaths, on non-smokers and in terms of its overall
cost - is so great that if it were any other cause,
the Government would face accusations of negligence
for failing to take action. The Government also has a
clear responsibility to protect children from
smoking will save lives. The Government intends to
implement a tough and comprehensive programme to
ensure that those who smoke are aware of the
potential consequences of their choice, that those
who do not smoke are protected against those who do,
and that the number of people smoking in Britain
public support... is essential for real, lasting
shows that the demand for tobacco products is related
to their price. As prices rise, demand falls. So high
tax levels are one important means of reducing
tobacco consumption. High tobacco prices are also a
deterrent to children tempted to take up smoking. The
real price of tobacco - that is, after allowing for
inflation - has increased significantly in recent
decades. But people's real incomes have also risen.
When people's incomes increase faster than the price
of cigarettes, the 'affordability' of cigarettes goes
children start to smoke?
smoke for all sorts of reasons. Some smoke to show
their independence, others because their friends do.
Some smoke because adults tell them not to, others to
follow the example of role models. There is no single
cause. Parents, brothers and sisters who smoke are a
powerful influence. So is advertising. So too is
sport which is often sponsored by tobacco companies.
children experiment with smoking, believing they will
be able to stop when they want to. But smoking is
highly addictive and a great many will find
themselves unable to give up.
children aged 11, 1 per cent smoke at least once a
week. But by the time they are 15 it is 30 per cent.
The proportion of girls aged 15 who smoke at least
one cigarette a week has increased from 22 per cent
in 1988 to 33 per cent in 1996.
enforcement on under age sales
it is illegal to sell cigarettes to anyone under 16,
it is clear that the existing law is not being
children who smoke say they buy their cigarettes from
shops. Of those children who get their cigarettes
from shops, only 22 per cent of boys and 15 per cent
of girls in England say they found it difficult. That
suggests that many shopkeepers are selling tobacco to
are developing a new Enforcement Protocol,
with representatives of local authorities, trading
standards officers and environmental health officers,
for use by local authorities in carrying out their
duty under the 1991 Act. Every local authority should
be properly exercising its statutory role in
preventing under-age sales in accordance with best
is currently no statutory obligation on local
authorities to carry out an enforcement campaign.
such offenders, there is scope for making more use of
the full range of penalties within the current limit
on fines. The maximum fine for this offence was
raised in 1991 to £2,500. The average fine is around
a tenth of that figure.
for selling tobacco to under-16s are relatively rare,
and magistrates and trading standards officers may
need to consider in greater detail the issues
surrounding such offences and the ways in which such
cases can best be presented to courts. The
Magistrates' Association and LACOTS will be
discussing how these cases should be approached
following this White Paper. As Parliament has
provided a maximum fine of £2,500, there needs to be
a clear understanding of the circumstances which
could justify the higher levels of fine, such as
previous convictions, or sales to particularly young
children clearly well below the legal age.
there will be individuals who flout the law and do so
repeatedly. We do not believe that people who are
prepared to behave so irresponsibly should be allowed
to continue to sell tobacco. The Government will
explore the scope for new measures to stop repeat
offenders or their staff from selling tobacco. In
principle, we favour the introduction of a new
criminal sanction to deal with this problem, and will
be looking carefully at the practicality of
introducing and enforcing such a measure.
is a crime. It can be punished with a fine, or a 7
year prison term. The total revenue lost on unpaid
tobacco duty was £1 billion in 1997/98 about 9.5 per
cent of the total amount of duty and VAT collected on
tobacco in the 1997/98 financial year.
growth in tobacco smuggling is a major cause for
concern, but cutting duty rates is not the answer
since it would increase the number of smokers.
evading UK tobacco taxes, smugglers are in a position
to charge lower prices than reputable shopkeepers and
still make large profits. Because smugglers operate
outside the law, they may well be prepared to sell
tobacco to children, and that is a particular cause
education programmes are the most direct way of
changing attitudes and behaviour, and an essential
component in any strategy designed to combat smoking.
of people die every year in the UK as a result of
high levels of exposure to passive smoke.
do not think a universal ban on smoking in all public
places is justified while we can make fast and
substantial progress in partnership with industry.
have looked very carefully at the case for an
outright ban, or legal restrictions, like the ones
tried in some other countries. A number of countries
have tried an outright ban on smoking in bars and
restaurants. But such restrictions have proved
difficult to implement. We want to work with business
and others to achieve real change, highlighting and
building on best practice. In public places we want
to see real choice for the public as a whole -
non-smokers and smokers.
deserve to know they have a choice to make and to be
able to exercise it. Staff have a right to choose not
to work in smoky conditions. New legislation is not
necessary if owners and employers recognise these
points and act accordingly.
it is the responsibility of all of us as individuals,
employees, consumers and employers to drive change in
public places generally. Our health and comfort are