UK Government consults on pack inserts to encourage people to stop smoking
The UK government is exploring a novel method to encourage smokers to quit by adding positive message inserts to tobacco products, announcing a consultation that opens today.
Taking inspiration from other nations such as Canada and Israel, these pack inserts could become an instrumental part of the UK’s drive to become smoke-free by 2030.
The inserts, to be placed inside cigarette and hand-rolling tobacco packaging, will contain uplifting messages outlining the health benefits of quitting and the financial gains, with potential annual savings of over £2,000 per individual if they quit.
With smoking being the leading preventable cause of illness and mortality in the UK, causing almost 4% of hospital admissions each year and costing taxpayers £21 billion annually, the government is eager to explore new ways to cut these figures.
Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay explained the severe burden smoking places on the NHS and the economy, citing the host of health problems it causes. “By taking action to reduce smoking rates and pursuing our ambition to be smokefree by 2030, we will reduce the pressure on the NHS and help people to live healthier lives,” he said.
Evidence from Canada, where pack inserts are already in use, shows significant potential for success. Almost one in three smokers there had read the inserts at least once in the past month, and exposure to these messages has been linked to increased efforts to quit smoking.
This new initiative comes amid a recent package of measures designed to achieve the government’s ambition to reduce smoking rates to 5% or less.
Other efforts include funding for a ‘swap to stop’ scheme, financial incentives for pregnant women to stop smoking, and a new strategy to combat illicit tobacco.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), said:
“Smoking is very addictive, and it takes smokers on average thirty attempts before they succeed in stopping, so encouraging them to keep on trying is vital.”
“Pack inserts do this by backing up the grim messages about death and disease on the outside with the best advice about how to quit on the inside.”
“They will help deliver not just the Smokefree 2030 ambition, but also the Major Conditions Strategy, as smoking is responsible for all six major conditions from cancer to cardiovascular and respiratory disease, as well as dementia, mental ill health and musculoskeletal disorders.”
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