Home Business Insights & Advice Hazardous Habit: Over half of Brits think smoking should be made illegal, given the burden that it places on the NHS, survey finds

Hazardous Habit: Over half of Brits think smoking should be made illegal, given the burden that it places on the NHS, survey finds

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16th Feb 22 5:33 pm

In 2020, there were over 506,000 hospital admissions in England attributable to cigarette smoking, which was similar in volume to the previous year but far higher when compared to figures from 2009 and 2010 (over 461,000 hospital admissions). Moreover, there were over 74,600 deaths caused by smoking in the same year in England, which was thankfully a 3% decrease when compared to 2018, meaning more people are either quitting cigarettes or switching to alternatives, such as vaping. In fact, there were 710,000 prescription products dispensed in 2020 in England to help people stop smoking cigarettes. And considering the increased risk to health when it comes to smoking, it’s still a considerable burden to public health in the UK, however, a preventable one. Figures highlight the financial pressure that cigarette smoking puts on the NHS and healthcare services, including an annual cost of £2.5 billion to the NHS. These figures also show over £760 million spent by local authorities on smoking-related social care needs for the community.

A survey by GoSmokeFree.co.uk of 1,000 Brits found that more than half (56%) of people thought smoking should be made illegal, given the severe burden that it places on the NHS and other healthcare services. Cigarette smoking remains the most significant cause of preventable death in England, but nearly three-quarters (73%) did not think health authorities have done enough in terms of efforts encouraging smokers to quit cigarettes. In fact, an audit discovered that more than 1 in 4 hospital patients weren’t asked if they were smokers. Additionally, half of frontline staff said they weren’t given routine training to help patients quit cigarettes.

When it comes to issues relating to smoking, 40% of people also said they didn’t think anti-smoking laws are tough enough and should be stricter. In fact, more than a third (34%) said they thought the government should actually make cigarette smoking illegal. Given that the habit affects not only smokers, but those around them, it’s perhaps no wonder people want it banned altogether, especially when it comes to the negative impact on both children and babies. Nearly half (40%) of people even said that if someone lit up a cigarette in a public space, they would confront them and ask them to put it out.

Given the prevalence of people who smoke in the UK, it could be that education methods aren’t completely effective, such as schooling and other government initiatives that aim to decrease smoking rates. In fact, more than half (57%) of respondents said they thought education on smoking and alcohol at schools in inadequate for youth. Considering many people pick up the habit of cigarette smoking at a young age, such as through peer pressure by fellow students or friends, it’s perhaps a wise solution to address the issue at the root, like at school and university.

When asked what their opinion was on quitting methods, a quarter (25%) of people said they thought vaping was the best way to help a smoker to give up cigarettes. More than 1 in 3 (37%) said they thought the best way was nicotine replacement therapy and 23% said they thought it was simply quitting cold turkey. Fifteen percent of people thought the best way of quitting was mindfulness or hypnotherapy.

Given its health benefits, such as helping people quit cigarette smoking, more than a third (37%) of respondents said they thought vaping should be made available on the NHS. And when it comes to laws surrounding cigarette smoking and vaping, these habits are often grouped together, although they are different in nature. A majority of respondents (58%) said they thought smoking cigarettes and vaping should not be considered the same thing in legal terms.

We know that cigarettes contribute to tax due to their cost but more than half (59%) of respondents thought vaping products should be tax-free in order to encourage smokers to switch up their habit. Considering the cost of cigarettes currently, as well as how easy it can become to replace a box so quickly, the financial savings of vaping might be enough to get more people to convert their habit!

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