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Smoking What is smoking In the UK, people commonly smoke cigarettes, cigars and pipes. Similarly, public health campaigns warning of the dangers of tobacco smoke occasionally outline the health risks associated with chewing tobacco. Background Smoking became popular because of its short-term effects, as well as a highly effective marketing campaign and little awareness of its health risks.
Users claim positive effects include increased alertness, concentration and mild euphoria. However, long-term use leads to nicotine addiction, with withdrawal exposing users to confusion, restlessness, anxiety and insomnia. Smoking tobacco has been linked to a number of health problems including lung cancer, emphysema and cardiovascular disease.
Public and medical awareness of the dangers of tobacco smoking was low when cigarettes were first marketed for mass consumption. By earlyhowever, an article in the British Medical Journal found a link between smoking and lung cancer.
This appeared to be confirmed by further research inprompting the government to issue its first warning of the link between lung cancer and smoking.
The Department of Health DoH has since made it a stated aim to reduce levels of smoking - despite few efforts from the Home Office to criminalise tobacco.
The legal age to purchase cigarettes has risen progressively to 18, but for the adult population smoking remains a legal pursuit, albeit surrounded by aggressive health warnings. According to the DoH, smoking is the biggest preventable cause of death in England, accounting for more than 80, premature deaths each year and tobacco use is one of the most significant public health challenges.
In an effort to reduce the number of smoking-related deaths, the DoH has introduced a number of measures. A Tobacco Control Plan for England', setting out the action the Government intends to take nationally over a five year period "to drive down the prevalence of smoking and to support comprehensive tobacco control in local areas".
The plan includes commitments to: Implement legislation to end tobacco displays in shops. Look at whether the plain packaging of tobacco products could be an effective way to reduce the number of young people who take up smoking and to support adult smokers who want to quit, and consult on options by the end of the year.
Continue to defend tobacco legislation against legal challenges by the tobacco industry, including legislation to stop tobacco sales from vending machines from October Continue to follow a policy of using tax to maintain the high price of tobacco products at levels that impact on smoking prevalence.
Promote effective local enforcement of tobacco legislation, particularly on the age of sale of tobacco. Encourage more smokers to quit by using the most effective forms of support, through local stop smoking services. Publish a three-year marketing strategy for tobacco control.
The plan sets out national ambitions to: Reduce adult aged 18 or over smoking prevalence in England to Reduce rates of regular smoking among 15 year olds in England to 12 per cent or less from 15 per cent by the end of Reduce rates of smoking throughout pregnancy to 11 per cent or less from 14 per cent by the end of measured at time of giving birth.
Controversy As with many public health issues, the state risks taking a paternalistic approach in pushing an unashamed anti-smoking policy. Unlike with alcohol or 'junk food' the government does not set limits for a "safe" level of smoking and instead encourages smokers to give up entirely.
Perhaps this is a realistic position given the addictive nature of nicotine. The government justifies its anti-smoking policy on two grounds; firstly the cost of smoking-related health problems to the NHS and secondly the harm caused by passive smoking, for which there is now convincing evidence.
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However, the government has made no effort to ban smoking outright, despite evidence nicotine is more harmful than a number of recreational drugs included on the ABC list of controlled substances.
Smokers will no doubt dispute claims the government has not tried to outlaw smoking, pointing to the ban on smoking in public places. Sales have also been restricted to minors and as of October 1st the decision whether to smoke became as important as who to vote for, as the smoking age was raised to While the government tells smokers they are a drain on the NHS, pro-smoking groups argue the taxes charged on tobacco more than compensate for the additional health needs of smokers.
The government certainly has an interest in maintaining tax revenue from tobacco products. Up to 89 per cent of the cost of a packet of cigarettes is the excise duty levied by the Treasury, prompting pro-smoking group Forest to argue cigarettes are almost a fully nationalised product.
The DoH justifies high taxation, arguing rising prices have been identified as a very effective way of getting smokers to quit. The government is actively concerned by black market cigarettes, not just because of any additional health risks but because of the loss in revenue.
A recent Smoking and Health fact sheet estimated up to 25 per cent of cigarettes smoked in the UK avoid taxation, representing a multi-billion pound loss in funds. The government spends a significant amount promoting the anti-smoking message and as with all public health campaigns, the success of these messages is open to debate.
The DoH maintains its ongoing media and education campaigns about the dangers of tobacco smoking are one of the primary reasons smokers in the UK decide to try and quit.
In a bid to further promote the anti-smoking message, the government has enforced a comprehensive ban on tobacco advertising and promotion. The DoH predicts this will reduce smoking rates by 2.
The DoH also regulates tobacco contents and labelling, giving the government remarkable influence over the design of private products.Stay up to date with the top Australian environment news, industry information, and breaking news.
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