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Public backs new plans to protect children from tobacco

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by Cancer Research UK | News

1 July 2009

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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.”


For media enquiries please call the Cancer Research UK London office on 020 7061 8300, or the out of hours’ duty press officer on 07050 264059.