By Steve Barclay, Secretary of Health
Tobacco remains the leading preventable cause of disease and death in the UK.
Up to two out of three lifelong smokers die from their habit.
Smoking is also the leading cause of cancer.
Smoking accounts for one in five cancer deaths in England.
This grim data sends a clear message: if we are to improve the nation’s health and help make the NHS fit for the future, we must do more to get people to quit for good.
That’s why we’re announcing a new consultation to integrate health advice into tobacco products to do just that.
Many will remember how cigarette companies used to put trading cards in their packs and many of these became collectibles.
Grandparents would have the little trading cards engraved with the faces of famous footballers or cricketers of the time and would often trade them with friends.
I’m sure Sun readers will remember seeing their collections.
The reality was that these funny cards were used to stiffen soft packages and actually encouraged people to take up the habit.
Now we want to take this idea and turn it on its head.
Instead, we want to use the new cards to spread positive messages that help people quit smoking and point smokers to advice and support.
I know that many Sun readers are smokers and that many have tried to quit smoking to be healthier and save some money as times are tough
And we hope these new cigarette cards will help make people aware of the helpful programs we’ve developed to help smokers quit smoking for good.
They are already being used in countries like Canada and Israel, where evidence has been found to encourage people to quit smoking.
The UK is rightly recognized as the world leader in reducing smoking rates – which are currently at their lowest level on record.
We recently announced a series of actions to help smoke eradication, including providing free e-cigarette kits to one million smokers in England, as well as expert smoking cessation support.
This “swap-to-stop” program – the first of its kind in the world – will use e-cigarettes to help smokers quit more harmful tobacco products.
At the same time, we realize that we do not want children to start vaping.
We’ve filled a loophole to make it illegal for companies to give free vape to kids, and we’re considering how we can go further to discourage kids from even starting vaping.
But we know there is still more work to be done, especially given that smoking is a direct cause of the six disease groups covered in our Major Conditions Strategy, which account for 60% of all illness and early deaths in England.
Smokers who start young can expect to die 10 years earlier than if they had never picked up a cigarette, and tobacco use is significantly higher among people with long-term mental illness.
And then there’s cancer.
Smoking accounts for one in five deaths from all cancers in England.
If you smoke, you are 25 times more likely to get lung cancer than if you don’t smoke.
We are already taking action to fight cancer.
The Prime Minister recently announced a new national lung cancer screening program for England, targeting current and former smokers. It aims to detect cancer early in 9,000 people and perform nearly a million additional scans.
But prevention is better than cure.
And by taking more action to quit smoking, we want to fight these deadly health problems before they happen.