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Existing Tobacco Control Plan for England

A Westminster Hall Debate is taking place on 17 December to consider a possible replacement for the Government’s Tobacco Control Strategy.

The March 2011 Department of Health Tobacco Control Plan for England runs out at the end of 2015. The plan set out three goals:

  • Reduce smoking prevalence among adults in England: To reduce adult (aged 18 or over) smoking prevalence in England to 18.5 per cent or less by the end of 2015, meaning around 210,000 fewer smokers a year.
  • Reduce smoking prevalence among young people in England: To reduce rates of regular smoking among 15 year olds in England to 12 per cent or less by the end of 2015. 
  • Reduce smoking during pregnancy in England: To reduce rates of smoking throughout pregnancy to 11 per cent or less by the end of 2015 (measured at time of giving birth).

The plan established support for tobacco control in England across six strands:

  • stopping the promotion of tobacco;
  • making tobacco less affordable;
  • effective regulation of tobacco products;
  • helping tobacco users to quit;
  • reducing exposure to secondhand smoke; and
  • effective communications for tobacco control.

Government plans to publish a new tobacco control strategy for England next year.

Recent changes to tobacco policy

Since the launch of the Tobacco Control Plan in 2011 a number of policy changes have occurred. These include:

1.    Prohibition of point of sale displays

The Health Act 2009 imposes a prohibition on tobacco displays in all large and small shops.

The Tobacco Advertising and Promotion (Display) (England) Regulations 2010 (as amended by the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion (Display and Specialist Tobacconists) (England) (Amendment) regulations 2012) are known as the ‘Display Regulations’. The Display Regulations deal with the practicalities of shops implementing the prohibition of tobacco displays.

The Display Regulations came into force on 6 April 2012 for large shops and on 6 April 2015 for all other shops.

A library note provides more detail – Prohibition of tobacco display in shops.


2.    Prohibition of smoking in cars carrying children

From 1 October 2015 legislation in England and Wales has made it illegal to smoke in a vehicle carrying someone who is under 18. It is now also against the law for a driver not to stop someone smoking in these circumstances. The fine for both offences is £50.


3.    Standardised packaging of tobacco products

“Standardised packaging” regulations will require, from May 2016,that any part of tobacco packaging not covered by a health warning must be a dark brown or green colour and brand names must be in small, non-distinctive lettering.

A library note provides more detail – Standardised packaging of tobacco products.


4.    Proxy purchasing of tobacco products

On 1 October 2015 it also became illegal for adults to buy (or try to buy) tobacco products or e-cigarettes for someone under 18.


5.    A revised EU Tobacco Products Directive

In February 2014 the EU agreed a revised Tobacco Products Directive. The new laws strengthen the rules on how tobacco products are manufactured, produced and presented in the EU. The EU Tobacco Product Directive (2014/40/EU of 3 April 2014) came into force on 14 May 2014 and should be transposed into national law by Member States within two years. 


Smoking Indicators

There are around 8 million smokers in England and smoking causes almost 80,000 deaths per year. Treating smoking related diseases is estimated to cost the NHS £2 billion each year. Smoking rates across England have fallen since the eighties, from a third of the population in 1985 to less than a fifth (18%).

Documents to download

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