Almost 60 years after the RCP’s first report on tobacco, Smoking and health, published in 1962, this new report from the RCP’s Tobacco Advisory Group reviews the UK’s progress in reducing smoking prevalence, and sets out comprehensive recommendations for England’s forthcoming National Tobacco Control Plan.
Smoking and health 2021 says that while the reduction in smoking prevalence by 75% since 1962 has been considered a national success, if the policies advocated by the RCP in 1962 had been adopted and followed through, smoking would have been eradicated from the UK years ago. Instead, modelling of current tobacco control policies shows a failure to achieve a smoking prevalence of <5% until after 2050.
‘Too many UK generations have been blighted by addiction to tobacco. To ensure that those born today live their lives tobacco-free, we must take the necessary steps to make smoking obsolete. In a historic time of medicine showing it can solve the health crises that come its way, this is our opportunity to make smoking and tobacco addiction history.’
President, Royal College of Physicians
Written by expert contributors and approved by RCP Council, this 150-page report provides a comprehensive account of all aspects of tobacco use in the UK today in ten chapters, from the effects of tobacco control measures across time, through the effects of tobacco promotion and tobacco company lobbying, to the economics and ethics of tobacco smoking. Each chapter carries recommendations which are brought together in the executive summary, available as a separate document below.
The report underlines the need to take action in all of the ten areas featured. The action we take now has to be thoroughly comprehensive, not piecemeal as in the past. Health measures are not enough on their own, and the report contains recommendations on reforming tax policy, eradicating media promotion of smoking, prioritising the treatment of tobacco dependency, realising the potential of comprehensive public health campaigns to promote quitting, raising the legal age of sale for tobacco products, and silencing the voice of the tobacco industry.
‘Tobacco smoking is a blight on health and society. The ill health, premature death and financial toll caused by tobacco use touches all communities in the UK, and is typically concentrated in the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in our society. To ensure that those born today live their lives tobacco-free we must take the necessary steps to make smoking obsolete.’
Chair of RCP Tobacco Advisory Group and Professor of Respiratory Medicine, University of Leicester
- The medical treatment of tobacco addiction – an online interactive module to develop clinical knowledge of tobacco addiction and prescribing stop smoking medications.
- Health inequalities and smoking – an RCP Medicine podcast featuring Professor Sanjay Agrawal, chair of the RCP’s Tobacco Advisory Group.
- Hiding in plain sight – a report on treating tobacco dependency in the NHS that argues for a new approach to treating addiction.
- Nicotine without smoke – a report on the use of harm reduction in tobacco smoking in relation to non-tobacco nicotine products such as e-cigarettes.
- Smoking and health – the 1962 RCP report that highlighted the link between smoking and lung cancer, other lung diseases, heart disease, and gastrointestinal problems.
- Watch the BBC’s original 1962 report on Smoking and Health, the RCP's report which conclusively linked smoking to lung cancer.