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The BBC's Karen Allen reports
"There are concerns that younger women are finding it harder to quit"
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Friday, 10 December, 1999, 12:42 GMT
100m to stamp out smoking

Anti-smoking campaign Alan Milburn launches the campaign

Health Secretary Alan Milburn has launched a 100m tobacco education campaign for England on Friday, urging smokers to "leave your cigarettes in the 20th Century".

Ministers claim it is the biggest ever drive to inform the public of the dangers of smoking.

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  • To mark the launch of the campaign, Mr Milburn unveiled one of the campaign posters in front of the London Eye.

    A series of high visibility billboard posters will run until the New Year.

    They will be backed up with a series of television adverts.

    People who quit smoking soon feel the health benefits - and that would be a great start to the new Millennium
    Health Secretary Alan Milburn
    The three-year campaign is a central plank of the Government's strategy to tackle the causes of the nation's major killer diseases - cancer, heart disease and stroke.

    Ministers want to cut the number of people in England who smoke from the present 28% of the population to 26% by 2005 and to at least 24% by 2010.

    The campaign includes a telephone helpline (0800 169 0169) to provide information and support for people wanting to quit smoking.

    Information can also be accessed from the campaign website at

    'Dangerous and expensive habit'

    Anti-smoking poster Posters will run over the holiday period
    Mr Milburn said: "Smoking is a dangerous and expensive habit. We know 70% of smokers actually want to give up so our campaign will provide the incentive to give up backed up by helpful advice and support.

    "People who quit smoking soon feel the health benefits - and that would be a great start to the new Millennium."

    Smoking causes 46,000 cancer deaths per year - 30% of all cancer deaths in the UK.

    It is also responsible for 40,000 heart disease deaths per year - 25% of all heart disease deaths.

    Smoking causes 83% of deaths from bronchitis and emphysema, and one quarter of all strokes are attributable to smoking.

    The Department of Health is awaiting the outcome of an appeal against an injunction granted to leading tobacco companies to prevent the introduction of a ban on tobacco advertising.

    If this appeal is successful, the government will introduce regulations to implement a ban 21 days later. The result is imminent.

    Amanda Sandford, research manager for the anti-smoking charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) said: "We know that mass media campaigns can be very effective in helping people to change lifestyle behaviour but you need to spend serious amounts of money and that money has to be well spent.

    "This campaign looks as though smokers will find it supportive and not threatening."

    These strong arm tactics are often counter productive and merely induce warning fatigue
    Martin Bell, FOREST
    Smokers' rights group FOREST condemned the campaign as a waste of taxpayers' money.

    Campaigns director Martin Bell said: "The vast majority of people stop smoking because of one thing - will power.

    "They rarely cite government initiatives as a reason for giving up, so one has to question whether this is an effective use of taxpayers' money or an exercise designed to appease the anti-smoker industry.

    "If people want to stop smoking that's their business, but these strong arm tactics are often counter productive and merely induce warning fatigue."

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    See also:
    15 Nov 99 |  Health
    Appeal against tobacco ban
    29 Oct 99 |  Health
    Tobacco ad ban setback
    25 Nov 99 |  Health
    Grim toll of smoking

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