ARNS backs call on the Government to impose an annual levy on tobacco companies

ARNS backs call on the Government to impose an annual levy on tobacco companies

The Association of Respiratory Nurse Specialists supports new report calling on Government to make tobacco companies foot the bill for reducing smoking rates

ARNS joins more than 120 local and national organisations to back calls on the Government to impose an annual levy on tobacco companies. The money raised would pay for evidence-based tobacco control and stop smoking services which could save tens of thousands of lives over the next decade and play a key role in helping to reduce costs to the NHS from preventable ill health [1].

The new report, Smoking Still Kills [2], was published by ASH today and calls for a new comprehensive strategy on tobacco paid for by placing a levy on the tobacco industry.

Every year smoking costs the NHS at least £2 billion and a further £10.8 billion in wider costs to society including social care costs of over £1 billion [3].

New ASH research also reveals that in England over 1.7 million households who live below the poverty line include an adult that smokes. If they quit over half a million households in England would be lifted out of poverty [4].

Supporting the report, Smoking Still Kills published by ASH today

Chair of ARNS Matthew Hodson said

“ARNS welcomes this new report published by ASH today. Highlighting the benefits of reducing smoking rates to: prevent premature mortality; reduce burden on NHS and reduce health inequalities which are fundamental actions within the roles of respiratory nurse specialists too, who also see the health consequences of smoking”.

Wendy Preston VICE Chair ARNS and BTS Smoking Cessation Champion said

“This new report calls for a new Government strategy to reduce smoking to replace the Tobacco Control Plan for England which runs to the end of 2015 and a Tobacco Levy to fund smoking cessation and public health campaigns.

As a nurse I see the ongoing battle my patients have with their tobacco addiction and how they need intensive smoking cessation treatment to improve their chances of a long term quit. The difference in smoking rates between affluent and deprived areas has never been so great and this report identifies this and action must be taken now.”


In the March budget earlier this year the Chancellor committed the Government to consult further on imposing a levy on tobacco companies [5].

Smoking Still Kills calls for:

  1. A new vision for the country with ambitious target of achieving 5% smoking rate by 2035: No one should be left behind as we achieve a tobacco free future and health inequalities must not be allowed to widen
  1. A new comprehensive five-year Government tobacco strategy for England: Comprehensive approach is vital – 70,000 lives have been saved due to falling smoking rates since the 1998, the first comprehensive government strategy on tobacco, Smoking Kills
  2. A new approach to funding, annual levy on tobacco companies to fund tobacco control: Tobacco companies make over £1bn in profit in the UK and the harms from smoking to society are significant. They should pay to address the harms they cause.
  3. A comprehensive package of measures: taken together the recommendations in this report are designed to set us on the path to a smokefree future by 2035.Matthew & Wendy also attended the Launch of the Smoking Still Kills report at the House of Commons, alongside Helen Donovan professional lead for Public Health at the Royal College of Nursing, where they also met Jane Ellison MP Public Health Minister (below).

Reference Material:

[1] According to the NHS Five Year Forward View by 2020 the NHS will have a funding gap of £22 billion which can only be filled if it succeeds in implementing a ‘radical upgrade in prevention and public health.’

[2] The recommendations in Smoking Still Kills were developed by an editorial board of experts working in consultation with local and national stakeholders. The board includes Cancer Research UK, the British Heart Foundation, and senior academics from the University of Nottingham, King’s College London and University College London (UCL). The report has also been endorsed by over 120 public health-related organisations.

[3] ASH Ready Reckoner tool

[4] Research undertaken by Howard Reed for Smoking Still Kills.

[5] The March 2015 Budget included this statement: “Smoking imposes costs on society and it is fair to ask tobacco manufacturers and importers to make a greater contribution towards these costs. However it is essential that this is done in the most effective way. At Autumn Statement 2014, the government announced a consultation on a tobacco levy. The responses revealed issues that the government would like to explore further, and so the consultation will be continued informally with stakeholders in order to develop detailed policy proposals.”

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