Cancer Research UK urges government to make big tobacco cough up

Cancer Research UK
How a levy on the tobacco industry could work to pay for stop smoking services and campaigns.

Cancer Research UK is today (Tuesday) calling on the Government to make the tobacco industry pay* for the damage it causes and help reduce the number of people killed by its deadly product.

"At a time when health budgets are stretched, this is a simple solution to a lethal problem. We urge the Government to make the industry cough up.” - Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK

Earlier this month a report published by Cancer Research UK** revealed that cuts to public health funding mean local Stop Smoking Services are being closed down.

In response, the charity is launching a new “Cough Up” campaign, and wants the public to support a simple solution to the problem – making the tobacco industry pay for public health services and mass media quit campaigns to help save thousands of lives.

By charging the industry around 1p per cigarette sold in the UK, an extra £500m could be raised and spent directly on tobacco control.

Smoking continues to kill more than 100,000 people in the UK every year.

Globally, the tobacco industry makes a profit of more than £4,000 for every death caused by tobacco. Internationally, the tobacco industry makes around £30 billion in profit.

Tobacco use costs England alone approximately £13.8 billion each year; this includes the direct costs to the NHS as well as lost work days and productivity due to smoking-related illness.

Andrew Riley, a retired musician aged 62 from Preston, was diagnosed with a rare type of blood cancer two years ago. He started smoking in his early 20s and by the time he was diagnosed he was smoking around 40 cigarettes a day.

Andrew said: “The moment I received my cancer diagnosis I knew I had to stop smoking. My GP put me in touch with my local Stop Smoking Services and they were absolutely brilliant.

“I had smoked for most of my adult life and didn’t think I’d ever give up, but thanks to Stop Smoking service I did. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been able to do it on my own.

“I signed up for 12 weeks and saw a really helpful lady face to face every week. I stopped smoking two weeks into the sessions and have never looked back. I can really notice the difference since quitting and that was two years ago. These services are vital and I’m fully behind Cancer Research UK’s campaign to get the tobacco industry to cough up.”

Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK’s director of cancer prevention, said: “For too long the tobacco industry has had an easy ride, making money without having to spend a single pound on the damage its products cause. It continues to profit from selling a highly addictive and lethal product that causes illness and death. Tobacco companies make billions of pounds every year, so we’d like to see them using their profits to keep Stop Smoking Services open and fund advertising campaigns to help people quit. At a time when health budgets are stretched, this is a simple solution to a lethal problem. We urge the Government to make the industry cough up.”

Support the campaign and add your name to the petition to make the industry cough up by going to:


For media enquiries, contact the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 3469 8300 or, out of hours on 07050 264 059.


Notes to Editor

* Find out more about Cancer Research UK’s “Cough Up” campaign:


For the latest statistics on the tobacco and smoking statistics: