News & Comment

Poll: Public split on effectiveness of tobacco control laws

Mon 16th September, 2019

The public is split on the effectiveness of tobacco control laws introduced by the UK government between 2010 and 2016.
 
A poll of 2,057 adults conducted by Populus for the smokers’ group Forest found that only 30 per cent of adults in Great Britain think the ban on the display of tobacco in small and large shops has helped to reduce the number of children and young people who smoke.
 
Even fewer, 24 per cent, think banning the display of tobacco products in small and large shops has encouraged and supported adult smokers to quit. (45 per cent said 'No, I don't think it has' and 31 per cent said they didn't know if it has or has not.)
 
Fewer than one in four (24 per cent) think the ban on the display of tobacco in specialist tobacconists has helped to reduce the number of children and young people smoking, while only one in five (20 per cent) think it has encouraged and supported adult smokers to quit.
 
The ban on the display of prices of tobacco products in shops also split opinion. 31 per cent think it is an effective way to protect children and young people from taking up smoking and support those who wish to quit, but 39 per cent think it isn't effective and 30 per cent don't know.
 
The only law that received a pass mark for its perceived effectiveness was the ban on smoking in cars with children. According to the poll, 51 per cent of the public think the ban has helped prevent people from smoking in vehicles with children. One in five (22 per cent) said they didn't think it has and 27 per cent didn't know.
 
The results of the poll are included in Forest’s submission to a government consultation on the impact of tobacco laws from 2010 to 2016.
 
The group’s director Simon Clark said:
 
“Regulations such as the display ban don’t stop children smoking. Instead they infantilise adults and drive smokers to the black market.
 
“Although smokers adapt to new regulations they resent being discriminated against. Tobacco is a legal product and smoking is a legitimate habit. 
 
“Instead of targeting tobacco and smokers with further regulations, the government should incentivise smokers to switch to risk reduction products like e-cigarettes.
 
“Smokers need to feel empowered to quit or switch, not denormalised or coerced.”
 
The poll of 2,057 adults in Great Britain was conducted on 11-12 September 2019. The government consultation on the 'Impact of tobacco control laws between 2010 and 2016' closed on 15 September 2019.
 

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