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The Office for National Statistics said that 7.6 million people in the UK are smokers. These figures equate to the country boasting the second lowest smoking rates in Europe after Sweden.
Officials from the UK’s Department of Health have confirmed that they have met with regulators from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to discuss possible future changes. On announcing the new tobacco plan for the US, the new FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said, “Unless we change course, 5.6 million young people alive today will die prematurely later in life from tobacco use.”

Similarly, the UK government has also issued a “Tobacco Control Plan” last month with the aim of achieving a “smoke-free” Britain. “Stopping smoking is hard and many smokers are turning to e-cigarettes to help them in their attempts. The best thing a smoker can do for their health is to quit smoking. However, the evidence is increasingly clear that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful to health than smoking tobacco.The government will seek to support consumers in stopping smoking and adopting the use of less harmful nicotine products,” stated the report. However many are sceptical about this plan.

“Putting forward the idea of low nicotine cigarettes risks confusing smokers far too many of whom already think nicotine is harmful when actually it’s the smoke in cigarettes which does the damage. Much more relevant is making sure smokers who can’t quit are encouraged to switch to less harmful products like nicotine patches or gum, or e-cigarettes.” Deborah Arnott, CEO, ASH

“We don’t think this is a helpful or relevant policy proposal at the present time”, said Deborah Arnott, CEO of ASH (Action on Smoking and Health). “Putting forward the idea of low nicotine cigarettes risks confusing smokers far too many of whom already think nicotine is harmful when actually it’s the smoke in cigarettes which does the damage. Much more relevant is making sure smokers who can’t quit are encouraged to switch to less harmful products like nicotine patches or gum, or e-cigarettes,” she said.

On the way to a smoke free generation

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) in the UK said that 15.8% of the UK population smokes which equates to 7.6 million people, while 2.6 million people are e-cigarette users. These figures make the UK the country boasting the second lowest smoking rates in Europe after Sweden. “Britain is a world-leader in tobacco control and our smoking rates are at an all-time low. We have recently announced our robust tobacco control plan to reduce rates even further on the way to a smoke free generation,” said a spokesperson for the Department of Health.