One in five GPs has already seen an increased number of patients asking about quitting smoking since the smoking ban vote just three weeks ago – according to a new poll published today (Wednesday) by Cancer Research UK. Although the law will not come into effect until summer 2007, the results show that it is already having an impact on the nation’s health by encouraging many more smokers to quit. The results come on this year’s No Smoking Day, a traditional date for many thousands of smokers to quit. Professor Alex Markham, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: “This first indication that the ban is helping people quit is exciting. The experiences of countries that have already gone smokefree show that bans help many smokers quit.” Professor Robert West, director of tobacco studies at Cancer Research UK, said: “The great majority of smokers want to quit but put it off because they know it will be difficult. These findings reflect the importance of new government policies in triggering action. This should be a bumper year for No Smoking Day, which will build on the momentum of the new law. For every two smokers who stop smoking on average one miserable premature death is averted.”

The new figures coincide with a survey of smokers’ opinions published by the charity No Smoking Day, which estimates that up to 2.8 million smokers in the UK will quit because of the ban. Online polling company,, was commissioned by the charity to carry out the poll. They surveyed 583 GPs. Over a fifth, 117, said that they had seen a rise in the number of patients enquiring about quitting smoking since MPs voted for a complete ban on 14 February. The GPs were also invited to enter an anonymous discussion. Interestingly, most of the comments anticipate many more smokers seeking advice on how to quit in the run up to the ban: “I work in Scotland where the smoking ban is somewhat more advanced but now smoking cessation has become the single most common reason to seek advice for at a GP or nurse consultation. The long term impact will be very interesting.”

“When given a deadline by which they must do something most people will leave any action until the last possible date.”

“Whereas in the past people would have wanted to stop smoking before a milestone age, now they are happy to keep on smoking until compelled to stop by the ban in public places.”

“There will be a rush but just not yet.”ENDS


Q: Have you had more patients ask about quitting smoking since the smoking ban vote on 14 February? Yes/No

GP votes: 583 Yes: 117 No: 466

As well as lung cancer, smoking is linked to:

  • Mouth cancer
  • Cancer of the pharynx (which is behind the nose)
  • Cancer of the larynx or voice box
  • Cancer of the oesophagus or gullet
  • Stomach cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Cancer that has started in the liver
  • Cancer of the cervix
  • Kidney cancer
  • Bladder cancer

Stopping smoking is the best present smokers can give themselves. Support and effective treatments are available to help smokers quit. For more information visit Cancer Research UK’s Reduce the Risk website:

Cancer Research UK

  • Cancer Research UK’s vision is to conquer cancer through world-class research.
  • The charity works alone and in partnership with others to carry out research into the biology and causes of cancer, to develop effective treatments, improve the quality of life for cancer patients, reduce the number of people getting cancer and to provide authoritative information on cancer. Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading independent charity dedicated to research on the causes, treatment and prevention of cancer.
  • For further information about Cancer Research UK’s work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 020 7009 8820.