Health leaders mark four months since smokefree generation read in Kings Speech and urge action before the election

Health leaders in Humber and North Yorkshire are urging lawmakers to pass new tobacco and vaping legislation before any General Election is called.

It is now four months since the King’s Speech heralded news laws that would help create a smokefree generation.

The Humber and North Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership has been a vocal advocate of proposed new tobacco and vaping controls which would make it illegal for children who turn 15 this year to ever be sold cigarettes.

New regulatory measures on vaping could also be introduced to prevent the uptake in young people.

Scott Crosby, Associate Director for the Humber and North Yorkshire Centre for Excellence in Tobacco Control, said: “Embracing the Smokefree Generation age of sale proposal is not just a policy shift, it’s a resounding declaration to protect our children from the uniquely deadly addiction that claims two out of every three smokers’ lives.

“Protecting our children from this harm is not just a moral imperative, it’s an investment in our nation’s future. As No Smoking Day approaches, let us not merely mark the occasion but propel it into a pivotal moment for progress.”

Tobacco is an entirely preventable cause of ill health, disability, and death in the country, responsible for 64,000 fatalities in England a year. No other consumer product kills up to two-thirds of its users.

This is especially important for the Humber and North Yorkshire region, which contains areas with some of the highest rates of smoking in the UK, compared to national averages.

Figures show:

  • Most smokers start as teenagers with 83% smoking before the age of 20.1
  • ¾ of smokers would never have started if they had the choice again.1 
  • Smokers who start younger have higher levels of tobacco dependency and suffer a worse risk of lung cancer and heart disease during their lives.2

Around three-quarters of adults in Yorkshire and the Humber (74%) support the government’s ambition to reduce smoking prevalence by 2030 to 5% or less. Two-thirds (65%) of adults support increasing the age of sale of tobacco to 21 years, and just over half (51%) of adults support increasing the age of sale every year.3

Rose Connolly, age 12 from the East Riding of Yorkshire, said: “I think Smokefree Generation is a brilliant idea. I don’t want to smoke.

“I know how dangerous it is because my Nannie died from lung cancer from smoking, and it was painful and scary for her. I remember being in the hospice on the day she died.

“I know it wasn’t her fault and that she wanted to stop lots of times and struggled.

“I don’t want to get sick from smoking and I don’t want anyone else to either – I know it’s really addictive, so stopping people from ever starting is a good thing.”

Peter Roderick, Director of Public Health for City of York Council, said: “We know that most smokers get hooked at a young age and we must stop the start of this deadly addiction. It’s time to give our next generation a better life with decisive and bold action to safeguard them from harm.

“We know that the Government’s proposals can work and that there is public support for measures such as increasing the age of sale and the introduction of a tobacco industry levy to fund prevention. We need to act now to encourage and help smokers to stop, and to prevent children and young people from starting smoking.”

Julia Weldon, Director of Public Health for Hull City Council, said: “The tobacco and vapes bill will be the most important change to public health in our lifetime. As a local authority, we are doing everything in our power to coordinate support for the proposal and know there will be profound positive effects upon our communities, saving lives and reducing the risk of harm to our future generations.”

  1. Stopping the start: our new plan to create a smokefree generation, Department of Health and Social Care ↩︎
  2. Young people and smoking, Ash ↩︎
  3. Local public opinion, Ash ↩︎