Plans to halve smokers in 10 years

As ministers reveal their plans to halve British smokers by 2020, we investigate how

Smoking remains a top priority among ministers as they announce plans to halve the number in Britain by the year 2020.

Over the past 10 years, the number of smokers has fallen by a quarter to 21%. But the government plans to reduce this by a further 10% in 10 years time, and is confident about their goal.

Their methods include removing branding from packets and banning cigarette vending machines. The government also plans to stop young people from taking up smoking by preventing illegally imported cheap cigarettes.

And it doesn’t end there. Further to this, there will be a review of smoking legislation, which could see public bans extended to places such as the entrances of buildings where employees often gather for cigarette breaks.

Health Secretary Andy Burnham said: ‘We’ve come so far and now we’ll go even further to push forward and save even more lives.

‘This strategy renews our commitment to virtually eradicate the health harms caused by smoking, and I firmly believe we can halve smoking by 2020. In 10 years’ time, only one-in-10 people will smoke.’

According to the latest government figures, smoking causes 80,000 deaths each year and costs the NHS £2.7 billion.

But not everyone is in favour of the extreme crack down. Smokers lobby group Forest has criticized the proposals for eroding people’s ability to make lifestyle choices.

Director of Forest, Simon Clark, said: ‘Adults should be allowed to make an informed choice. When the government starts setting targets it is rather dangerous because the only way they can reach targets is to introduce very illiberal, very draconian legislation.’

Is the government right to instill such tough measures to fulfill such high hopes, or are they nurturing an intolerant society? Have your say by posting your comment below.

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