The NHS should automatically enrol all smokers onto quit programmes and the government should encourage them to switch to vaping, health experts have said.
Authors of the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) report believe that providing ‘opt-out smoking cessation services to all smokers at any point of contact with the NHS’ would double uptake.
The government should invest millions of pounds in media campaigns encouraging smokers to switch to e-cigarettes, they added.
The RCP warned that the government could miss its ‘Smokefree 2030‘ target by more than two decades unless tougher measures are introduced.
Other measures outlined in the report include increasing taxes to double the price of cigarettes over five years and restricting tobacco imagery in the media.
Professor John Britton, RCP tobacco advisory group member, said:
“Smoking is entirely preventable, but ending smoking requires us to go even further with the more familiar prevention measures, such as tax and providing help for smokers to quit, but also tackling some of the causes that have not yet been addressed – and particularly the exposure of children to tobacco imagery in film, television and other media.
“Doing this will prevent countless deaths, dramatically reduce the burden placed by tobacco use on health services and wider society, substantially reduce inequalities in health and, by alleviating poverty and improving health, contribute significantly to the levelling up of our society.”
Professor Jon Bennett, chairman of the British Thoracic Society, added:
“The largest proportion of smokers come from disadvantaged or lower socio-economic groups, causing deep health inequalities.
“So we welcome the focus on initiatives that do not discriminate but support these groups to quit and reduce the number of new smokers.”
The RCP’s 1962 report ‘Smoking and Health‘ was the first to alert the public to the dangers of smoking.
The advisory body maintains that while not risk-free, vaping is far less harmful than smoking tobacco.
Source: Daily Mail