Intended for healthcare professionals


The path to a smoke-free England by 2030

BMJ 2020; 368 doi: (Published 17 February 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;368:m518
  1. Nicholas S Hopkinson, reader in respiratory medicine
  1. National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, London SW3 6NP, UK
  1. n.hopkinson{at}

We know what to do, and the tobacco industry should be made to pay for it

Smoking is on course to kill around one billion people in the 21st century1 and is the leading preventable cause of morbidity and mortality. The adult smoking rate in England is now 14.4%, down from 19.3% five years ago, but this still represents six million smokers.2 Smoking is an important driver of health inequality; more than 25% of routine and manual workers smoke, compared with 10% in the professional and managerial group. The UK government’s prevention green paper3 set out an ambition for England to be smoke free by 2030, defined in its 2017 tobacco control plan as a smoking rate below 5%. The equivalent target for Scotland is 2034.

The UK has made important progress in tackling the tobacco epidemic4 through policies such as taxation to reduce the affordability of tobacco products and the introduction of standardised packaging and display bans,5 as well as by advancing smoke-free legislation, most recently a ban on smoking in cars with children …

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