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Report: no public desire for more tobacco control measures

Mon 10th October, 2016

Forest has urged prime minister Theresa May to stop her government introducing further policies that would discriminate against the UK’s seven million smokers.

A report – Enough Is Enough: Attitudes to UK Smoking Policies – published on Monday 10th October reveals that a clear majority of the public believe that measures to tackle smoking have gone too far or gone far enough.

Based on a series of polls conducted by Populus for Forest, the report also found that:

The public overwhelmingly believe the government has more pressing priorities than tackling smoking – investing in new doctors and nurses, for example.

There is no appetite for additional tax rises on tobacco products – a huge majority believe that tobacco duty is already about right, too high or far too high.

A significant majority of the public believe that purchasing illegal tobacco is an understandable response from consumers faced with the high cost of tobacco products.

Measures to restrict smoking in outdoor public places such as parks and beaches have no popular or scientific legitimacy and would be hard to police.

Following a dramatic fall in the number of people using NHS stop smoking services a significant majority of the public believe there should be a review of how these services are funded.

A majority of the public believe the government’s tobacco control policies should be independently reviewed and should not be driven by taxpayer-funded lobby groups.

Almost a decade since smoking was banned in pubs and clubs in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and ten years since smoking was prohibited in Scotland’s pubs and bars, a majority of the public believe that pubs and private members’ clubs, including working men’s clubs, should be allowed to provide a well-ventilated designated smoking room to accommodate smokers.

More than half the public also believe that actors should be allowed to smoke on stage and screen when smoking is integral to the plot or characterisation of the play they feature in

Simon Clark, director of Forest, said: “Anti-tobacco campaigners are lobbying the government to introduce new measures they believe are essential to tackling smoking. It is clear however that there is relatively little public support for further anti-smoking policies.

“What is equally clear is the public’s desire for a common sense approach to policy making in the area of tobacco control. Regulation should not be made at the behest of taxpayer-funded lobby groups but on the basis of credible, independent evidence.

“Regulations should be based on fairness not dogma. Punishing rather than educating the consumer is not acceptable. Nor should legislation be introduced without proper consideration of the inevitable unintended consequences.”

He added: “Theresa May says she wants to make Britain a country that works for everyone. She also says the Conservatives will use government to ‘restore fairness’ in Britain. In the coming months, as the government’s new smoking strategy is finalised, ministers should reflect on what that truly means.

“A significant number of adults smoke, and enjoy smoking, and their contribution to society is substantial. Further discrimination against smokers would be the clearest sign that this new one nation Conservative government is not as inclusive as it purports to be.”

Enough Is Enough: Attitudes to UK Smoking Policies is published by Forest on Monday 10th October 2016.

Enough Is Enough: Attitudes to UK Smoking Policies is based on a series of polls conducted by Populus in 2015 and 2016. Populus interviewed a random sample of 2,113 UK adults online between 1-3 July 2016; 2,111 UK adults online between 29-30 June 2016; 2,089 UK adults online between 24-26 June 2016; 1,011 adults in Scotland online between 11-14 March 2016; and 2,010 GB adults online between 3-4 June 2015.

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