UK Government plans to end smoking by 2030 – report
The Government plans to eliminate smoking from Britain by 2030, leaked documents reportedly show.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock will announce the target next week when he presents a Green Paper focusing on the importance of prevention.
Smoking remains the UK's biggest preventable cause of cancer, despite rates of Britons lighting up halving in the the last 35 years.
Tobacco companies rather than health providers would be made to cover the cost of helping people to quit smoking, according to the leaked documents seen by the Daily Mail.
Black market cigarettes will also be targeted by ministers and quit leaflets will be placed inside legal cigarette packets.
"The gains in tobacco control have been hard-won, and there's still much to do," the plans seen by the Mail say.
"For the 15% of adults who are not yet smoke-free, smoking is the leading cause of ill-health and early death, and a major cause of inequalities. That's why the Government wants to finish the job."
A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: "I'm afraid we can't comment on leaks."
Simon Clark, director of smokers' group Forest, said people have the right to light up "without being harassed to quit".
"It's not up to government to dictate people's lifestyle," he said.
There are now 1.8 million fewer adult smokers in England than seven years ago, figures show.
New figures analysed by NHS Digital show 5.9 million people smoked cigarettes in 2018 (14.4% of the population), down from 7.7 million in 2011 (19.8%).
Throughout the UK, 14.7% of adults smoke, with England enjoying the lowest prevalence among constituent countries.
Scotland has the highest at 16.3%, followed by 15.9% in Wales and 15.5% in Northern Ireland.
Meanwhile, e-cigarette use continues to rise, with 6.3% of adults vaping in 2018, up from 5.5% the previous year. Just over half (51.5%) of those vaping said it was to help them quit smoking.
Mr Hancock launched his "vision for prevention" in November 2018, which he said at the time would aim to add five years to the healthy life expectancy of UK residents.
The unveiling of a subsequent Green Paper containing details of the Government's strategy has been repeatedly delayed but it will reportedly take place next week.