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The Government published a new Government tobacco plan, Towards a smoke-free generation: tobacco control plan for England 2017 in July 2017. This contained four national ambitions for tobacco control:

  • The first smoke-free generation: the plan aims to reduce the prevalence of smoking amongst young people (for 15 year olds –from 8% to 3% or less) and adults (from over 15% to 12% or less) and reduce the inequality in smoking prevalence by the end of 2022;
  • A smokefree pregnancy for all: the plan aims to reduce smoking in pregnancy from over 10% to 6% or less by the end of 2022;
  • Parity of esteem for those with mental health conditions: the plan aims to improve data collection for smoking and mental health and make all mental health sites smokefree by 2018; and
  • Backing evidence based innovations to support quitting: this amibition includes helping individuals to quit smoking by using innovative technology and maximising the availability of safer alternatives (such as electronic cigarettes).

Health organisations welcomed the publication of the plan and the targets set out within it, especially an ambition to tackle health inequality, a focus on mental health and the inclusion of recommendations about e-cigarettes. However, there were some concerns expressed about a reduction in funding for public health and how this will impact on local smoking cessation services.

A July 2018 report, published by NHS digital reported that the number of adult smokers in England had dropped by around 1.6m between 2011 and 2017. However, it also highlighted that 10.8% of pregnant women in England remained smokers at the time of delivery, well above the national ambition of 6%, and that smoking contributed to 484,700 of all hospital admissions in 2016/17 (an increase of 2% from the previous year).

More information about the tobacco control plan and reactions to this are provided in the November 2017 Library briefing paper, Tobacco control policy overview.

A number of other Commons Library briefing papers provide more background information on specific policies and issues:

This debate pack provides recent press and Parliamentary material on tobacco control policy and the 2017 Tobacco Control Plan.

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