Wednesday, 9 June 2021

A smoke-free by 2030 - ASH's plan

ASH's All Party group put out a twelve point plan to make the UK 'smoke-free' by 2030. I looked at the proposals for Spiked...

ASH has made itself slightly redundant in recent years as a result of governments capitulating to its every whim. Having portrayed cigarette packaging as the one remaining way in which the tobacco industry ‘lured’ in new customers, the introduction of plain packaging in 2017 made it difficult for them to argue that people picked up the habit for any other reason than that they enjoyed it. Since then, they have resorted to moaning about smoking in reality TV shows and trying to get smoking banned outdoors.

There are two hooks for the new ASH / APPG report. First, when Theresa May was prime minister she set Britain the target of going ‘tobacco-free’ by 2030. This was barely noticed at the time. She didn’t consult anybody about it, let alone smokers, nor did she suggest how it could be achieved. But the target now hangs in the air as if it were a genuine collective commitment.

Secondly, lots of people have just died in an epidemic and ASH is keen to draw a parallel with the ‘tobacco epidemic’. The APPG report says: ‘We are taking the necessary steps to end the coronavirus pandemic; we must do the same for smoking.’ This argument is the flipside to the claim sometimes made by some lockdown ‘refuseniks’ who say that since the government has not banned smoking, it should not do anything about Covid-19. Neither argument stands up because a highly infectious, potentially fatal disease spreading through the community is a collective-action problem whereas people smoking tabs is not. It really is that simple.

ASH’s All-Party Group has a dozen recommendations which it reckons will set the course for a ‘Smokefree 2030’. Let me take you through them...

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