Cancer Research UK and Action on Smoking and Health have written to Jeremy Hunt MP, telling him that ending smoking would save the NHS billions of pounds. Both of the charities recognise the key role electronic cigarettes have played in reducing the UK’s smoking rate and supported the call made in last year’s Khan Review to do more to invest in the promotion of vaping to adult smokers.
Analysis published by Cancer Research UK found that one person per minute is admitted to hospital in England because of smoking. In addition, it says that 75,000 GP appointments are filled each year with smokers needing treatment for their smoking related ailments.
“Smoking remains the biggest cause of cancer and death and uses a considerable amount of NHS resource”, Cancer Research UK said.
Action on Smoking and Health said: “The evidence shows that what is needed is an updated comprehensive strategy. Javed Khan’s Independent Review published in June 2022, recommended such a strategy.”
The Khan Review made the increased promotion of vaping as one of its four key recommendations.
Cancer Research UK points out that tobacco taxes raise £11 billion each year, but this is far outweighed by a £21 billion cost that smoking causes the health service. Smoking causes an estimated 500,000 hospital admissions per year in England alone, it says.
Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: “In his forthcoming budget, the Chancellor has the chance to reduce the number of people suffering with and dying from smoking-related cancers, grow the economy, and best use NHS resources in England.
“Jeremy Hunt must grasp this opportunity to be bold with tobacco control and establish a Smokefree Fund to pay for these measures – and if required, make the tobacco industry, not the taxpayer, pay for the harm it causes to our nation’s health, and our health service.”
Action on Smoking and Health suggests the Chancellor should introduce a new tax on disposable ecigs: “We recommend making e-cigarettes an excisable product and setting a tax on disposable vapes, while retaining a zero rating for the re-chargeable and refillable products which are the main products used by adult ex-smokers who used e-cigarettes to help them quit.”
In addition, Cancer Research UK sent an open letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that it had members of the public co-sign.
The letter called for the publication of a new Tobacco Control Plan for England, something the government has been promising for over a year.
Incorporating the Khan Review’s proposals for e-cigarettes would cost the government an additional £125 million per year, but a cost benefit analysis discovered that if vaping helps end smoking, society would be better off to the tune of £775.7 billion over the ensuing 50 year period.
“The UK Government has a duty to act to prevent young people from starting to smoke and fund stop smoking services to help people quit. Government action on this would give us hope for a brighter future,” Cancer Research UK said.