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Freeing the world from tobacco, one day at a time

Tamara Sandoul explains how campaigning for tobacco control is making a difference.

Smoking in cars

Saturday is International No Tobacco Day, so I wanted to share how dedicated campaigning is helping to free the world from tobacco.

Most people in the UK are now aware of the deadly truth behind smoking. It contributes to more than 100,000 preventable deaths per year in the UK alone - not just from lung disease, but also from heart disease and cancers.

The hard work of many campaigning organisations and individuals over the past few decades has helped bring about a sharp decline in the number of smokers in this country - but around 20% of the UK population are still addicted, so more still needs to be done.

Campaigning for tobacco control

Recent tobacco control laws in the UK have seen great support from the public.  I’m sure you remember the uproar seven years ago when smoking was banned in public places – but now very few would say they miss the old days of smoke-filled pubs and restaurants.

Over the past few decades, the hard work of many campaigning organisations and individuals has helped bring down the number of smokers in this country. However, the decline in smoking has slowed over the last ten years, with around 20% of the UK population are still addicted.

Sadly tobacco continues to kill half of its long-term users and more still needs to be done to tackle the root of this problem.

Children and smoking

The tobacco industry is still managing to recruit new smokers to replace its old ones. Shockingly, two thirds of these new recruits are children.

Recent research has shown colourful packets are very attractive to children and may encourage them to take up the habit. That’s why we’re working with other organisations to campaign for further measures such as the introduction of standardised packaging for all tobacco products.

Passive smoking is also a greater risk for children. Children are much more vulnerable to damage caused by second-hand smoke due to their small and still-developing lungs. The small spaces of a car can also raise the concentrations of smoke to dangerously high levels. This is why we’re also leading the campaign to ban smoking in cars carrying children.

What we’re doing

We’ve put together detailed research and up-to-date knowledge of what is happening around the world. We've met and briefed parliamentarians and asked for their support.

Thank you to all of you who have written to your elected representative urging them to back the ban. We’re also generating loads of press coverage to raise awareness of the issue and make sure it remains at the top of the political agenda.


In early February 2014, legislation on both standardised packaging and a ban on smoking in cars carrying children were voted through parliament with an overwhelming majority. These are amazing victories for the health of our nation’s future generations.

Together, we’ve shown that it is possible - with limited resources but huge determination - to bring about important change. Hopefully, before next year’s No Tobacco Day we’ll be celebrating these two major pieces of legislation being finally introduced as law.

Would you like some help in quitting smoking? Read our pages on how to get help with smoking cessation services.

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27 May 2014