Britain not doing enough to stop people from smoking claim public health experts

03/12/04

Tobacco still killing one Briton every five minutes

The British Government is not doing enough to stop people smoking claim doctors from the UK, leading to the death of one Briton every five minutes from tobacco related diseases.

In a report published today in the Medical Journal of Australia, the British Government is severely criticised for its record on tobacco control by UK public health experts.

While Australia passed the point where ex-smokers outnumbered smokers in 1989, Britain has still not passed this important public health landmark, meaning that coming to Britain is like entering a 'tobacco control time-warp', claim the authors.

Professor Konrad Jamrozik from Imperial College London, and one of the authors of the report, says, "It is extremely hard to fathom why a nation that has led the world in documenting the harm done by smoking has been so slow to act on the evidence and adopt a comprehensive programme of tobacco control."

Professor Jamrozik, from Australia, was heavily involved with campaigning for stricter tobacco control measures, including going head to head with the then Australian Prime Minister John Howard on radio over the issue of inadequate funding for anti-smoking campaigns. He joined Imperial in 2001, as Professor of Primary Care Epidemiology.

Professor Jamrozik adds: "Most Australian States now have legislation making all restaurants smoke-free, leading to an unpleasant surprise for non-smoking Australian visitors to Britain.

"The UK is paying the price for its delay in adopting the full range of effective strategies to help smokers give up and dissuade young people from taking up the habit. That price is the death of one Briton from smoking every five minutes.

"International experience shows that adoption of smoke-free policies in public places and workplaces stimulates many smokers to give up the habit. When introduced with adequate explanation and advance notice, smoke-free policies are well respected, and several studies have now shown that they have no adverse economic impact on the hospitality industry."

The authors point out that carefully researched, well-funded and hard-hitting anti-smoking campaigns in the mass media have been a feature of Australian life for over two decades now, and have proven to be highly effective, but have only recently begun to emerge in this country.

Professor Jamrozik continues: "While providing nicotine replacement, bupropion (Zyban) and smoking cessation clinics on the NHS is an important step, why did it take Britain a decade longer than Australia to get rid of advertisements for cigarettes on billboards and in newspapers?"

Medical authorities accept that half of people who continue to smoke will be killed prematurely by their habit. With nearly a third of British adults still smoking, compared with a figure of 20 percent in Australia, tobacco is destined to kill millions more in this country, despite the dangers of smoking having been discovered here more than 50 years ago, say the authors.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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