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Government seek views on cigarette pack inserts to help smokers quit

The government is seeking views on plans to add pack inserts to tobacco products to encourage smokers to quit

All tobacco products in the UK could come with a new insert with information intended to stop people from smoking. The government will seek views on the proposal at a consultation.

According to Steve Barclay, health and social care secretary, ‘smoking places a huge burden on the NHS, economy and individuals. It directly causes a whole host of health problems - including cancers and cardiovascular disease - and costs the economy billions every year in lost productivity.

‘By taking action to reduce smoking rates and pursuing our ambition to be smokefree by 2030, we will reduce the pressure on the NHS and help people to live healthier lives.

The government hope the inserts will do this by providing positive messages which signposts smokers to advice and support. The messages will also highlight the immediate health benefits of quitting, for example experiencing improved breathing within a matter of days and a 50% reduction in the risks of a heart attack within a year.

Financial benefits are also listed on the proposed inserts, stating that people could save over £2,000 a year if they quit smoking.

Despite the clear benefits, there is a broader acknowledgement of how challenging quitting can be. Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), said: ‘smoking is very addictive, and it takes smokers on average 30 attempts before they succeed in stopping, so encouraging them to keep on trying is vital.

‘Pack inserts do this by backing up the grim messages about death and disease on the outside with the best advice about how to quit on the inside.

‘They will help deliver not just the smokefree 2030 ambition, but also the major conditions strategy, as smoking is responsible for all 6 major conditions from cancer to cardiovascular and respiratory disease, as well as dementia, mental ill health and musculoskeletal disorders.

Smoking remains the single leading preventable cause of illness and mortality in the UK. It results in nearly 4% of all hospital admissions each year which is the equivalent to almost 450,000 admissions. Tobacco-related harms are also estimated to cost taxpayers an estimated £21 billion every year, including over £2 billion in costs to the NHS.

Although smoking rates in the UK are at an all-time low, by taking further action, the government hope to cut waiting lists and reduce the burden on the NHS. Introducing pack inserts into all tobacco products in the UK could lead to an additional 30,000 smokers giving up their habit - delivering health benefits worth £1.6 billion.