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Last Updated: Thursday October 02 2008 09:43 GMT

Why aren't cigarettes banned?

Picture taken in the 40s of US film actress Bette Davis (

Help-lines, health warnings, and now gory pictures on packets of cigarettes.

Politicians and health experts are always banging on about how bad smoking is for your health.

The government's doing lots of things to try and encourage people to quit smoking, AND to stop people picking up the horrible habit.

It's now illegal to smoke inside public places in the UK, and the age you can buy cigarettes has been raised from 16 to 18... but why aren't they banned altogether?

People started smoking tobacco in the UK years before anyone knew it was bad for you.

Movie stars were even paid lots of money to help make it seem glamorous.

Cigarettes with the pictures on
It's hoped scary pics will put people off
We now know that it seriously harms people, and causes 110,000 deaths every year.

But health officials say it would be really hard to ban it completely, because people who smoke are addicted to nicotine, and find it hard to stop.

Instead, they're doing lots of things to try to encourage them to give up - like giving them free medicine to make it easier.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said: "Fifty years ago half of all adults smoked, now less than 1/4 of adults smoke and we hope that in 50 years time hardly anyone will smoke."