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Smoke without fire: a new vision for vaping policy in the UK

Regulatory standards Health promotion Public health Smoking E-cigarettes United Kingdom

In 2019, the UK Government set out a laudable goal. By 2030, their stated ambition is for England to be entirely smoke-free.

Smoking remains the leading preventable cause of illness and premature death in the UK, and is a primary driver of health inequality in England. However, in 2023, the UK is on a course to miss this target, with the recent Khan review on smoke free policies predicting that, on the current trajectory, around 7% of the UK – over 4.8 million people – will still smoke in 2030. The government’s target is 5%.

Urgent change is needed if the government is going to reach its smoke-free goal, reduce health inequalities and diminish the devastating impacts smoking has on people’s lives. This white paper seeks to identify ways of encouraging smokers to switch to e-cigarettes without introducing non-smokers to nicotine. The proposals include:

  • Significant expansion in public information campaigns promoting e–cigarettes as less harmful nicotine alternatives; including more investment from the Office for Health Improvements and Disparities (OHID).
  • Local authorities working with stop smoking services to target and provide adult smokers in deprived communities with free Swap to Stop packs.
  • Government to modify Tobacco and Related Products (TRPR) and Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) regulations to allow government-approved messages promoting them as less harmful to be included both online and on inserts in cigarette packets.
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