Report says England will not be smoke free by 2030 as proposed

A new report from the Cancer Research UK, released this week, says that England would not be declared smoke free by 2030 as earlier projected if the current smoking trends continue. This target of declaring England smoke free by 2030 was set last year, and researchers state that there is still much work to be done.

Image Credit: Variety beauty background / Shutterstock
Image Credit: Variety beauty background / Shutterstock

Rich-poor gap

According to the latest report, with the current efforts in place for smoking cessation in the country and preventing people from taking up cigarette smoking, it is likely it would be 2037 by which England could be smoke-free. The report added that it would be a challenge among the poor communities of the nation, and unless health inequalities are addressed, the chances of getting a smoke free nation would be pushed back. In fact, the gap between the not-deprived and deprived individuals in the nation is around 20 years, says the new report. The wealthiest population of the country is likely to achieve a smoke-free status by 2025 while the most impoverished communities would be smoke-free only by the mid-2040s, the report added.

Numbers and speculations

The report states that by 2030 the adults who smoke in England would be down to 5 percent. At present, 14 percent of adults smoke cigarettes in the country. The efforts made by the government, the report says, is in the form of advanced smoking cessation support systems and also investments and government spending on national education and awareness campaigns to encourage more people to quit and fewer people to start smoking. The report says that these awareness campaigns have proven to be successful in cutting down on smoking significantly in recent years.

If the present projections work out, there would be nearly 3.4 million fewer smokers in England by 2030 compared to the present number of smokers. Similarly, smoke-free status is expected to be achieved in Scotland, Wales, and North Ireland by 2050, 2037, and late 2040s respectively.

The team of experts gathered their data for the speculations from the Annual Population Survey for England and Wales and the Scottish Health Survey for the Scottish data. The statistics for Northern Ireland were obtained from the Health Survey Northern Ireland.

Problems and solutions

The report says that to achieve smoke-free status by 2030, there needs to be a 40 percent faster drop in the smoking rates across the nation compared to the present trends. According to Cancer Research UK, a fixed annual charge could be levied on the tobacco industry. This would curb smoking and also help provide extra funding to the smoke-free campaigns. The campaigns, the report adds cost the nation £11 billion every year. This extra money from the levies could help smokers receive smoking cessation services and provide them support to help them quit for good.

The researchers behind the report warned that the tobacco companies, however, should not be involved in the spending on the money obtained from the extra charges on the tobacco industries.


Dr. Katrina Brown, Cancer Research UK statistics manager and report co-author, said in a statement, "Our modeling suggests that if the 2030 target is achieved, there could be around 3.4 million fewer smokers in England compared with today. However, unless the Government acts to make smoking rates fall quicker, we are unlikely to reach the target." She added, "Smoking is the biggest cause of cancer, leading to around 120 cases of cancer in England every day, so it's vital that the government tackles tobacco to prevent illness and suffering." The report states that smoking is responsible for 115,000 deaths annually in the United Kingdom.

Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK's director of cancer prevention, in her statement, said, "Smoking - and its catastrophic impact on health - remains more common within poorer communities. So more funding is needed to help these disadvantaged groups to quit as they are increasingly being left behind." She added, "The tobacco industry makes more money every year than Coca Cola, Disney, Google, McDonald's and FedEx combined, while its products continue to kill people. It should be made to pay for the damage it causes, which is why we're calling on the Government to introduce an annual charge on the industry to fund these vital services that will help get England smoke-free by 2030. The government must act now if they are to see this smoke-free ambition become a reality."


Smoking prevalence projections for England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, based on data to 2018/2019 -

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


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