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Joining together against tobacco: The biggest cause of cancer has no place in our future

Headshot of Sam Johnson-Audini
by Sam Johnson-Audini | News

29 September 2023

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Cancer Research UK Campaigners outside number 10 Downing street with MPs Bob Blackman, John McNally and Martyn Day.
Cancer Research UK Campaigners with MPs Bob Blackman, John McNally and Martyn Day.

On Wednesday 13 September, Cancer Research UK Ambassadors and staff headed to Number 10 Downing Street, joined by cross-party Councillors, MPs, Cancer Research UK partners and representatives from other health charities to hand in our Smokefree UK petition. The petition, addressed to the Prime Minister, demands Government action on tobacco. 

Sue’s story: “I started smoking when I was 11”

Sue at the hand-in holding a large cigarette packet

“Smoking tobacco has impacted me because I started when I was 11. I tried quitting so many times but it was so difficult to quit. Then I got cancer of the larynx and in the end I needed radiotherapy, which is not pleasant, not for me or my family.”

Sue, Smokefree UK Supporter 


Handing in our petition to Number 10  

We launched our petition in May, marking World No Tobacco Day, to the Prime Minister asking him to better fund stop smoking services and public health campaigns to help people in the UK quit smoking and prevent cancer across all nations. 

After nearly four months of campaigning, the petition had the support of almost 14,000 campaigners as well as 21 organisations from across the charity and health sectors. In addition to the petition, 53 cross-party MPs, Lords and Councillors signed a complimentary letter to the Prime Minister, asking him to support our call for a Smokefree Fund.  

Prevent more cancers from occurring 

Sadly, tobacco is still the number one cause of cancer and death in the UK, killing one person every 5 minutes in the UK. Next month is Stoptober, a campaign encouraging people to quit smoking, but people need the right tools and support to succeed. The majority of people who smoke want to quit, yet not everyone has access to stop smoking services in their local areas, largely due to funding cuts.  

More needs to be done. We need bold action and funding to save lives across the UK.  

In the current economy, this money does not need to come from the taxpayer—instead the tobacco industry should be made to foot the bill for the damage it causes.  

Smokefree UK Supporters gathered on College Green before the petition hand-in
Smokefree UK supporters gathered on College Green before handing our Smokefree UK petition to 10 Downing Street in September 2023

Thank you 

Thank you to everyone who signed, shared, and supported this petition. Our work isn’t done, and we’ll continue to press for more action to tackle the number one cause of cancer, and save more lives. Visit our webpage CRUK/SmokefreeUK to find out more.  

To see the day in action, watch our short video below: