Policy and progress

We are calling on the government to make the UK tobacco free by 2035, but there remains some way to go.

One in five adults still smokes, and it continues to be the leading cause of preventable death and hospital admissions.

Nonetheless, recent gains have been made, with bans on cigarette vending machines and laws against smoking in public places.


Tobacco Products Directive

EU flagIn February 2014 the European Parliament approved the Tobacco Products Directive, aiming to make smoking less appealing to young people. Measures include putting health warnings on two thirds of the pack, front and back; banning small packs and some flavours; and tighter controls on the sale of e-cigarettes.

The rules will now need to be approved by the European Council before they enter into force.

Find out more about the Tobacco Products Directive

Find out more about BMA policy and recent progress

Smoking statistics

Smoking graphSmoking is becoming less widespread over time, but it remains a leading cause of death and disease in the UK.

NHS costs are estimated at £2.7 billion each year, with costs to the wider UK economy of around £2.5bn in sick leave and lost productivity.

The figures for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales respectively reveal how the nations compare on the percentage of adults who smoke, and how many deaths and hospital admissions are attributed to smoking-related illnesses. 

Find out more

BMA successes

The BMA has lobbied for decades for greater controls on tobacco products. Catch up on our major successes since 1984.

View our timeline of success

Tobacco news

The damaging effects of smoking and the burden it creates on the health system are never far from the headlines.

Read news on smoking

Lifestyle-related disease

Doctors see the effects of poor diet, smoking and alcohol abuse every day in clinics, emergency departments and on hospital wards.

Read our position statement