0228 GMT January 17, 2019
Top health official Duncan Selbie said that less than five percent of people in England should be smoking by the year 2030 and called on the NHS to do more to help people overcome their ‘addiction’ to tobacco. Selbie said: “Smoking should no longer be seen as a lifestyle choice, it is an addiction that warrants medical treatment. “Everyone who smokes must be offered the support they need to quit.”
He also cited cardiovascular disease and obesity as important areas for the NHS and Public Health England to address, metro.co.uk reported.
“These three priorities are where the NHS and PHE should focus efforts. It is not that other priorities won’t matter, but these will need to matter most.
“Successful delivery will require action from every part of civil society.
“We must pull together to use our resources and we must engage the public directly in the choices they are making about their own health and wellbeing.”
According to the NHS, smoking is responsible for 90 percent of lung cancers and can also cause cancers of the mouth, lips, throat, larynx, oesophagus, liver, bladder, kidneys stomach and pancreas. Smoking is also linked heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, infertility, pneumonia, bronchitis, and emphysema, and can worsen conditions like asthma.
Between 2016 and 2017, there were 484,700 NHS hospital admissions attributed to smoking. In 2016, 77,900 deaths were caused by smoking. Could Britain become smoke-free within the 12 years that Selbie specified?
NHS figures from 2017 show that 14.9 percent of adults are currently classed as smokers, compared to 15.5 percent in 2016, and 19.8 percent in 2011. The number of current smokers would need to be reduced by around a third in order to hit Duncan Selbie’s target of under five per cent. However, Twitter users are skeptical. One user remarked wryly: “That would mean me giving up some time in the next 12 years, which is unlikely the way things are at the moment. Or I could die of course.”
Some took exception to Selbie’s comments about addiction because they were interpreted as stripping smokers of personal agency. Tom Bourlet of the award-winning blog Spaghetti Traveller told Metro.co.uk: “I would love to say yes, Britain could become smoke free by 20130, but I really can’t imagine it! “While young people are moving towards vapes, it is a move in the right direction, but we are still attracting young people to doing something they shouldn’t.
“It’s an idealistic utopian concept, but not based on the real world. We’re only human after all.
“In countries like Vietnam and Malaysia, the government runs a huge number of anti-cigarette TV and banner campaigns to help lower the number, yet we can’t honestly say this is mirrored here in the UK.
“Even in countries where smoking was banned in public areas like Russia, this simply created a ‘rebellious’ outlook towards smoking and the number of young smokers have actually increased, so the answer to tackling the habit is still unknown.
“Movies and TV series still continue to make supposedly ‘cool’ characters smokers, which is a serious hindrance.”