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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tobacco Use in The UK

Tobacco was first introduced into the UK in the 16th century when it was commonly smoked in pipes by men.

Mass consumption of tobacco started with the invention of cigarettes in the latter part of the 19th century.

By 1919 tobacco was mostly being sold as cigarettes. Consumption of cigarettes, generally confined to men, rose steadily to peak in 1945 at 12 per adult male per day.

In 1948, when smoking surveys began, 82% of men in the UK were smokers. Smoking prevalence fell rapidly between the 1970s and 1990s after which it has continued a slow decline.

Speaking to journalists in London, West said the long-term reduction in smoking showed no sign of coming to an end.

"We don't see that happening in England," he said. "The decline now is between about 0.5 and one percentage point a year, which is a pretty decent rate. There's no evidence that it's plateauing."

He added that government policies such as raising tobacco pricing, mass media campaigns and services to help smokers quit "definitely" played a role in cutting tobacco consumption.

Each measure on its own might have a relatively small effect but together their impact was significant, said West.

He warned there was no room for complacency, as had been seen in France where no attempt was made to follow up a big hike in tobacco prices. Smoking rates dropped sharply for a time, but then prevalence started to rise again.

"You definitely need to keep bearing down on it," West added.

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