Public backs new plans to protect children from tobacco

Cancer Research UK

New research shows that 70 per cent of adults in the UK back proposals to protect children from tobacco by putting it out of sight in shops and 76 per cent support abolishing cigarette vending machines according to Cancer Research UK today (Wednesday) - on the second anniversary of the smoking ban in England.

The survey* - carried out by YouGov - questioned more than 2000 people from across the UK and shows that nearly 80 per cent of people support the smoking ban in the UK's pubs, clubs and enclosed public places.

Those who had never smoked were most supportive of the ban and new proposals, with smokers showing the lowest levels of support. Women were also more likely than men to support the ban and new measures.

Other new results also show the 2007 smoking ban in England was followed by a rapid decline in smoking prevalence for about 9 months, amounting to 800,000 fewer smokers. The Smoking Toolkit Study** tracks smoking on a monthly basis and follows progress from before the ban to the present. Comparing smoking trends before and after the ban researchers have been able to calculate the extra number of smokers who quit.

Smokefree legislation was introduced across the UK first in Scotland in March 2006, Wales in April 2007, Northern Ireland in April 2007 and then England in July 2007. The laws now provide all workers with a smokefree environment safe from the dangers of secondhand smoke, as well as the extra benefit of helping smokers break their addiction to tobacco.

Professor Robert West, Cancer Research UK's director of tobacco studies at the Health behaviour Research Centre at UCL and who leads the Smoking Toolkit Study, said: "The smoke-free law has been a huge boost to smokers trying to quit, but radical action is now needed to build on this success."

Tobacco kills half of all long term smokers. Every single day around 450 under-18s start smoking across the UK and more than eight out of 10 smokers start before they are 19.

Elspeth Lee, Cancer Research UK's head of tobacco control, said: "Smokefree laws have been a real success - not only in protecting UK workers from secondhand smoke but also in helping smokers to quit. These results show there’s huge public support for the new measures to protect young people from tobacco marketing.

"Stopping the next generation from becoming smokers is a priority if we are to prevent more deaths from a product that has already caused far too many deaths. The public want this and research has shown that future generations will demand it."

ENDS

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Notes to Editor

*All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2030 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 19th - 22nd June 2009. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

  Strongly support Support Oppose Strongly oppose Don't know
How strongly do you support or oppose the ban? 57% 19% 12% 8% 3%
Putting tobacco product out of sight in shops 44% 26% 16% 8% 6%
Getting rid of cigarette vending machines 51% 24% 13% 5% 6%

**The Smoking Toolkit Study is a monthly series of national household surveys with smokers and recent ex-smokers being followed up for six months. Data collection began in October 2006. The study is currently funded by Cancer Research UK, McNeil, Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline. The fieldwork is undertaken by the British Market Research Bureau (BMRB).

The data are publicly available at www.smokinginengland.info

Almost 90 per cent of lung cancer deaths are caused by smoking. Smoking can also cause cancers of the following sites: upper aero-digestive tract (oral cavity, nasal cavity, nasal sinuses, pharynx, larynx and oesophagus), pancreas, stomach, liver, lower urinary tract (renal pelvis and bladder), kidney, uterine cervix and myeloid leukaemia.

Overall tobacco smoking is estimated to be responsible for approximately 30 per cent of cancer deaths or around 46,000 deaths in 2005 in the UK.

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