Our policy on a Tobacco-Free UK

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

We have created a central resources hub for Health Professionals which hosts all of our CRUK resources and further materials to help with managing the pandemic. We are updating the information as guidance changes. There is also a page specifically for patients on our about cancer hub.

Health Professional COVID-19 and Cancer Hub

Icon of UK with stop smoking sign

Contact us

Get in touch with our policy team to find out more information about our work and our policies.

Email the team

The #QuitforCovid campaign launched in early 2020 in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. COVID-19 is a new illness caused by a virus that can affect people’s lungs and airways. Symptoms of COVID-19 include a cough, a high temperature and shortness of breath. There are some groups of people who may be more at risk of serious illness if they catch coronavirus, including older people, people with long term health conditions and people who are immunosuppressed. Emerging evidence suggests people who smoke are at higher risk of severe COVID-19 infection.

If you or someone you know wants to stop smoking, there are a range of tools available to support you. Visit the NHS Smokefree website to find out more.

Cancer Research UK has bold ambitions beating cancer sooner. We also have bold ambitions ending death and disease caused by tobacco.

We believe that setting an ambition for achieving a Tobacco-Free UK, where less than 5% of the adult population smoke across all socio-economic groups, is in line with the UK’s international commitment to the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

By inspiring government and society to imagine all that is to be gained from an end to the tobacco epidemic, we are committed to develop the policies and investment to speed progress and save thousands of lives.

In July 2019, the Government published a ‘green paper’ which set out the bold target to make England smokefree by 2030. 

Each devolved nation has its own government that handles public health and have their own plans for reducing smoking rates. In 2013 the Scottish Government committed to a tobacco-free generation by 2034. Only Wales and Northern Ireland have shorter term targets for reducing smoking rates.

Related documents

A changing landscape: Stop smoking services and tobacco control in England (March 2019)

Briefing: Sustainable Public Health funding for Local Government (January 2019)

Stop smoking inequalities: A systematic review of socioeconomic inequalities in experiences of smoking cessation interventions in the UK (July 2018)

Feeling the heat: The decline of stop smoking services in England

Economic Case for Local Investment in Tobacco Control

Our local tobacco control policy statement (for Local Authorities with advice for tobacco control and links to tools)

Cutting Down: The Reality of Budget Cuts to Local Tobacco Control: Results of a survey of tobacco control leads in local authorities in England (November 2016)

Aiming High: Why the UK should aim to be tobacco-free. A report by Cancer Research UK and the UK Health Forum (March 2016)

Reading Between the Lines: Results of a survey of tobacco control leads in local authorities in England (January 2016)

FAQ: Tobacco Industry Levy (August 2015)

Taking a Reading: The impact of public health transition on tobacco control and smoking cessation services in England (March 2015)

The Impact of Tobacco Use on Health Inequalities (December 2014)

Tobacco Key Facts (October 2014)

Cancer Research UK response to the Welsh Government's Public Health White Paper consultation (September 2014)

Tobacco Control Endgames: Global initiatives and implications for the UK (July 2014) – full report

Tobacco Control Endgames: Global initiatives and implications for the UK (July 2014) – executive summary

Support those who want to stop smoking

Image of someone snapping a cigarette in half

Your local service that helps people quit smoking could be at risk as a result of cuts to public health funding. 

See more on public health funding issues

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