The government has launched an open consultation on a new initiative designed to help people quit smoking and deliver potentially billions in health benefits to the NHS.
The Department of Health and Social Care is seeking views on adding ‘pack inserts’ into tobacco products – a move that has already been taken by other countries like Canada and Israel, with Australia expected to follow suit soon.
The pack inserts contain positive messages encouraging people to quit smoking and direct those reading them to follow-up support.
The messages feature some of the benefits of quitting, including a 50% reduction in the risk of a heart attack, breathing improvements and more than £2,000 of savings per year.
Smoking rates in the UK are at an all-time low at 13.3%, but, by taking this further action, the government believes it can help another 30,000 people quit smoking which could deliver health benefits worth £1.6bn.
A policy evaluation for a similar scheme in Canada revealed that almost one in three people had read the inserts in the past month, and those who did so multiple times were significantly more likely to try and quit smoking.
Secretary of state for health and social care, Steve Barclay, said: “Smoking places a huge burden on the NHS, economy and individuals. It directly causes a whole host of health problems – including cancers and cardiovascular disease – and costs the economy billions every year in lost productivity.”
The government estimates that tobacco-related complications cost the taxpayer around £21bn a year, including more than £2bn directly to the health service.
This comes shortly after analysis from Brunel University London indicated that the NHS would save more than £500m a year if only half of England’s smokers switched to e-cigarettes.
More information on the consultation is available here.
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