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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 November 2004, 07:11 GMT
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Smoking kills more than 300 people each day in the UK
The government has published its long-awaited white paper on public health.

Smoking is one of the issues covered in the document.

What does the government plan to do?

  • By the end of 2008, all enclosed public places and workplaces will be smoke free.

  • All restaurants and pubs and bars preparing and serving food will also be smoke free. However, other pubs and bars will be free to choose whether to allow smoking.

  • There will be tighter restrictions on advertising of tobacco and the government will consult on how to use picture warnings on tobacco products most effectively.

  • More emphasis will also be placed on helping smokers to quit, including phone , email and text support schemes.

What are the health risks?

According to Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), about half of all regular cigarette smokers will eventually be killed by their habit.

On average, each cigarette shortens the life of the smoker by around five to 10 minutes.
Source: Action for Health and Smoking

Most die from one of the three main diseases associated with cigarette smoking - lung cancer, chronic obstructive lung disease (bronchitis and emphysema) and coronary heart disease.

Smoking causes more than 50 illnesses and has more than 20 ways to kill.

About a sixth of all deaths and nearly a third of all cancer deaths can be attributed to smoking.

Smoking has been associated with increased sperm abnormalities and with impotence in men.

Smoking leads to an earlier menopause and, during pregnancy, increases the risk of miscarriage and sudden infant death.

Exposure to other people's tobacco smoke is also damaging.

How many people are affected?

Tobacco use kills around 106,000 people in the UK every year, which is nearly 300 every day.

About 12 million adults in the UK smoke cigarettes - 27% of men and 25% of women.

It has been estimated that, in England, 364,000 patients are admitted to NHS hospitals each year due to diseases caused by smoking. This translates into 7,000 hospital admissions per week, or 1,000 day.

More than 17,000 children under the age of five are admitted to hospital every year because of the effects of passive smoking.

Smoking costs the NHS between 1.4 and 1.7 billion a year in England.

Is it getting worse?

World-wide, almost 5 million people die prematurely each year as a result of smoking. Based on current trends, this will rise to 10 million within 20 years.

In 1974, 51% of men and 41% of women smoked cigarettes - nearly half the adult population of the UK.

Image of children smoking
Younger people are continuing to take up smoking

Now just over one-quarter smoke, but the decline in recent years has been heavily concentrated in older age groups.

Almost as many young people are taking up smoking, but more established smokers are quitting.

Although 70% of smokers want to give up, less than 5% succeed each year.

According to the Wanless report into the future of the NHS, a fall in the number of smokers from 26% now to 17% of the population by 2011 and 11% by 2022 is needed.

However, if current rates of decline in smoking prevalence continue, smoking prevalence will still be at 22% by 2011, and it would take twenty years to reach17%.

The statistics were supplied by ASH.

What did campaigners want?

The British Medical Association is calling on the government to introduce UK-wide legislation as a matter of urgency to ban smoking in enclosed public places.

ASH says a national coalition, of government officials, health experts, charities and industry, should be set up to oversee the new tobacco strategy under the Public Health Minister.

It believes giving a specific minister responsibility for public health in all relevant departments within government, not just the health department, would help.

Both the BMA and ASH call for restrictions on tobacco advertising and public education campaigns to motivate and encourage smokers to quit.

08 Feb 03 |  Medical notes
Smoking ban consultation closes
01 Oct 04 |  Scotland

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