People in the North West support more Government action to make smoking history – Make Smoking History

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People in the North West support more Government action to make smoking history

New data issued this week shows that people in the North West support further action from Government to address smoking.

The data is published as MPs and peers gathered to mark four years since the Government committed to make England smokefree by 2030 [1].

However, smoking is still the biggest preventable cause of death – killing around 5,700 people in Greater Manchester every year – and Cancer Research UK estimate that the Government’s target will be missed by 9 years [2].

The ASH Smokefree GB survey carried out by YouGov [2] finds that 49% of adults in the North West think the Government is not doing enough to address smoking. There is overwhelming majority support for further action to:

  • Place a levy (fee) on tobacco companies (76% support, 7% oppose), which will require a proportion of their profits to fund stop smoking services
  • Raise the age of sale of tobacco from 18 to 21 (64% support, 15% oppose)
  • Introduce tobacco retail licensing (84% support, 5% oppose)
  • Increase government investment in public education campaigns (69% support, 8% oppose)
  • Add inserts to cigarette packs to motivate quitting (66% support, 9% oppose)


In April the Government announced [5] a new ‘swap to stop’ scheme to distribute 1 million vape kits to help adults to quit smoking by switching to vaping, a cost-effective financial incentive scheme to support pregnant women to stop smoking, and plans to consult later this year on introducing mandatory cigarette pack inserts with positive messages and information to help people quit.


Public Health Minister Neil O’Brien spoke at the event. He said: “Through our new measures, the Government will be supporting many more smokers to quit. One million smokers will be encouraged to ‘swap to stop’, swapping cigarettes for vapes under a new national scheme – the first of its kind in the world. We will offer evidence-based financial incentives for all pregnant women who smoke. We will also shortly be launching a consultation on cigarette pack inserts to provide further information to support smokers to quit. These are important steps on the path to achieving our bold ambition to be Smokefree by 2030.”


There is strong public support across the political spectrum for a levy on tobacco manufacturers supported by the overwhelming majority of those surveyed who voted for the 3 largest British political parties at the 2019 general election (Conservative 75%, Labour 82%, Liberal Democrats 87%) [6].

Andrea Crossfield, Making Smoking History Lead at Greater Manchester Integrated Care Partnership, said: “Every year in Greater Manchester, around 5,700 people die as a result of smoking. But the ripple effect this has on communities is immeasurable. Every life lost is a personal tragedy – a family left grieving, and countless birthdays, weddings and special moments missed.

“As a result of work in neighbourhoods across the city-region, smoking rates have fallen to an all-time low in Greater Manchester. But it is vital that we continue to press on with work to reduce smoking rates. From this latest data, it’s clear to see that the public across the North West are absolutely behind Government measures to address smoking, the single leading preventable cause of death.”

Debbie Watson, Director of Public Health at Tameside Council, and Lead Director of Public Health for Making Smoking History, added: “It is positive to see the Government announce measures earlier this year to reduce smoking rates, and they’re certainly a step in the right direction. However, they alone are not enough to meet England’s ambition to be smokefree by 2030.

“We need to see bolder and more decisive action from Government at a national level if we hope to meet this target, such as a mandatory levy on tobacco companies to fund this vital work, and there is overwhelming support from the public to see this happen. By going further and faster, we can make smoking a thing of the past once and for all.”

For free, personalised support to stop smoking in Greater Manchester, residents can visit How to Quit or call the NHS Stop Smoking Helpline on 0300 123 1044.


[1] Commitment was made in Advancing Our Health in the 2020s published in July 2019:

[2] Cancer Research UK analysis showing we will miss the target by 9 years:

[3] Cancer Research UK analysis showing level of deaths from tobacco:

[4] All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 1,095 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 22/02/2023 – 15/03/2023.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults. (aged 18+). Data is weighted by age, gender, region, education status, social grade, and ethnicity. The full set of data is available here:

[5] Announcements made by Minister O’Brien in April 2023:’swap%20to%20stop’%20partnership,help%20them%20completely%20stop%20smoking

[6] Action on Smoking and Health. Public support for Government action on tobacco, national brief.