Smokefree UK

Three supporters holding placards that read 'Smokefree UK'
With decades of action, fewer people are smoking than ever before, but around 6.4 million people in the UK still smoke and smoking still causes around 160 cases of cancer every day. Join us in helping to build a better future for all.

Help end cancers caused by smoking

This general election, we called on all political parties to commit to help end cancers caused by smoking  - one of our five calls for longer, better lives. They have listened. But we’re not done yet.

There's still time to join the campaign for a Turning Point for Cancer.

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When governments take action, smoking rates go down

Smoking is still the biggest cause of cancer and death in the UK. Not long ago the UK had smoke-filled pubs and workplaces, tobacco advertising and branded packs. Smoking rates have come down with government action in the past and government action will be essential for rates to continue coming down in future too. That’s why we launched our Smokefree UK campaign.  

With the help of supporters across the UK, we’ve campaigned for more funding to help people quit smoking – and won – with the UK Government more than doubling the funding for stop smoking services. We’ll need to make sure that this funding is secured for as long as it takes to achieve a smokefree UK. But now, we want to help prevent future generations from becoming addicted to tobacco in the first place.  

The biggest cause of cancer has no place in our future

Creating a smokefree generation

In October, a bold new policy was proposed to help create the first ever smokefree generation. 

This legislation would ensure that people born on or after 1 January 2009 would not legally be able to be sold tobacco in their lifetime. This would be achieved by raising the legal age of sale of tobacco by one year every year. It won’t prevent anyone born before 1 January 2009 from being sold tobacco in future. 

Preventing young people from starting smoking is key to a smokefree future. That's why raising the age of sale of tobacco has been an important call of our Smokefree UK campaign. There is no safe way to use tobacco, so it is important that the legislation applies to all types of tobacco products, including combustible, smokeless and heated. 

Learn more about creating a smokefree generation

Together, we can make a smokefree generation a reality

With your help, Cancer Research UK has been tirelessly campaigning for this sort of action on smoking for over a decade. We’ve been informing and influencing the government to keep cancer at the top of their agenda and publishing research in support of our policy asks.  

Politicians from around the UK and across parties are supportive of this policy – a long-term decision, for longer, healthier lives. This is one of the biggest opportunities we have had to prevent cancer in over a decade. 

Imagine the number of cancers and deaths we could prevent – for generations to come. Let's make history, together.

Campaigners at Westminster, waving

Our first campaign win 

This past summer, nearly 14,000 campaigners signed our petition to the Prime Minister, asking him to provide more funding to help people quit smoking. Then, in September, we handed-in this petition to 10 Downing Street.  

Since we handed-in our petition, the UK Government has announced that it will increase funding for the measures and services that help people quit smoking. This will double the funding available for local stop smoking services to support a total of around 360,000 people a year to quit smoking. Additional funding will be also given to stop smoking campaigns that help encourage people who smoke to quit and signpost them to support available. This was a big win for the Smokefree UK campaign. Learn more about the petition.

Our policy calls 


Stop the Start

Almost 9 in 10 people who smoke report taking up smoking before the age of 21, and smoking prevalence is higher among the 18 to 21 age group than the general population.  

We support the Prime Minister’s proposed legislation to raise the age of sale of tobacco by one year every year to help create a smokefree generation. If implemented, this policy could prevent future generations from ever taking up smoking – the biggest cause of cancer in the UK. 

Start the Stop 

Protecting people from starting smoking is not enough. Most people who smoke want to quit, but smoking is an addiction, and they need support to do so. That’s why public health campaigns and stop smoking services need funding to help people who currently smoke to stop.  

We will continue to campaign to make sure that funding for these measures and services is sufficient, sustainable and goes to the places that need it the most across the country. 

Behind the smoking statistics are real people. Lynne tells her story.

Lynne Phillips, Campaigns Ambassador

My father suffered with emphysema, my mother's two sisters both died of lung cancer, my father's brothers died of lung cancer ...all caused by smoking... the aim to make the UK smokefree is an amazing target.

- Lynne Phillips, Campaigns Ambassador