Fall in number of smokers in UK to 26%
The General Household Survey statistics show that smoking prevalence among adults aged 16 and over has dropped from 28% when ?Smoking Kills?, the Government?s White Paper was published in 1998, to 26% in 2002.
This provides evidence that the Government is on track to meet the target of 24% in 2010 having met the 2005 milestone early. Smoking prevalence among manual groups decreased from 33% in 1998 to 31% in 2002.
Welcoming the new figures, Melanie Johnson, UK Minister for Public Health said:
?I am delighted by these results. These figures show that the Government?s programme to reduce the numbers of adults who smoke is working. They also show that smoking rates are falling in manual groups, which is crucial in tackling health inequalities.
?We have provided Stop Smoking Services on the NHS which give support to smokers wanting to quit as well as free stop smoking therapies, to help them give up smoking for good. The success of these services is one of the reasons why we are on track to reduce the number of smokers even further by 2010.?
?This drop is also being helped by people giving up as a result of the media campaigns that the Department of Health has run since 1998. These have helped to link in people's minds the devastating effects that smoking has on their health and has provided added motivation that they need to quit smoking.?
Today?s figures are out at the same time as new regulations are laid before Parliament under the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act 2002 to restrict the advertising of cigarettes and tobacco where they are sold. .
These Point of Sale Regulations are an important step in taking forward the 2002 tobacco advertising ban and will come in to force at the end of the year.
The regulations will strictly limit the amount of advertising allowed where cigarettes are sold in shops. The large and brightly coloured adverts on shelving where cigarettes are placed are often found close to sweets and magazines in newsagents which appeal to children. These new measures will further help to protect young people from the dangers of smoking and discourage the purchase of tobacco.
Welcoming these changes Ron Gainsford, Chief Executive of the Trading Standards Institute said,
'Our members welcome these new regulations. Protecting the health and well-being of our local communities is a high priority for Trading Standards services across the country. We will be working with businesses, particularly local retailers, to help them comply with these new requirements.'
Office for National Statistics
Notes to editor
1. The Government's tobacco policy aims to help smokers to give up; ensure non-smokers don?t start; and to protect people from exposure to secondhand smoke. To meet these aims a six strand tobacco strategy has been developed:
1. NHS Stop Smoking Services to help smokers give up
2. reducing tobacco promotion
3. reducing exposure to secondhand smoke
4. communications and education
5. tobacco regulation
6. reducing availability and supply of tobacco.
The work is underpinned by ongoing research, monitoring and evaluation.
2. White Paper, Smoking Kills, was published in December 1998 outlining the government's policies on smoking. This contained the target to reduce adult smoking in all social classes so that the overall rate falls from 28% to 24% or less by the year 2010, with a fall to 26% by 2005.
3. Each one percentage point decrease in the prevalence of smoking among adults aged 16 and over in England means around 400,000 fewer smokers.
4. The smoking prevalence figures from 'Living in Britain: Results from the 2002 General Household Survey' are produced by the Office for National Statistics and can be found at the above link.
5. The regulations are made under the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act 2002 which introduced a general ban on tobacco advertising on television, radio, magazines, newspapers and billboards. The regulations will come into force on 21 December 2004.
6. The total area of the advertisement(s) must not exceed A5 size, and must include a health warning as specified. The regulations will have the effect of reducing the amount of advertising currently allowed at points of sale which include large, often brightly coloured, branded gantries.
7. The regulation will allow the advertising of tobacco products on gantries (shelves used to hold tobacco products) within shops but restricts the size of such advertising .
8. The regulations will allow vending machines to carry only a picture of the products offered for sale.
9. Specialist tobacconists selling cigars, pipe tobacco and snuff will be exempted from the regulations.
10. It is estimated that a comprehensive ban will reduce consumption and prevalence over time by 2.5%, and therefore reduce the number of deaths caused by smoking. The Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act 2002 therefore placed a ban on press, billboard and most Internet advertising of tobacco products and the promotion of smoking through free distribution of tobacco products, coupons and mailshots in the UK.
11. Enforcement of the regulations, and of the Advertising Act as a whole, is the responsibility of local authorities through their Trading Standards Officers. 12. A consultation on the draft regulations took place between August and November 2002.
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