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CRUK Estimate Cancer Impact

Cancer Research UK has published new estimates on the impact of smoking related cancer on the population as says it impacts the poor the most

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Cancer Research UK (CRUK) has published new estimates on the impact of smoking related cancer on the population as says it impacts the poor the most. Smoking is responsible for nearly twice as many cancer cases in lower income groups compared to higher income groups, it says.

CRUK said that over 11,000 cases of cancer are linked to smoking in the lowest income group, with 6,000 in the highest. Broadening out from smoking, it estimates that more than 27,000 cases per year in England can be associated with poverty or deprivation.

The charity says: “People living in more deprived areas are 2.5 times more likely to smoke than those in least deprived and find it harder to quit, contributing to major health inequalities. Experts think this is likely to be down to a mix of factors such as exposure to cigarettes, tobacco industry targeting, housing and income pressures, access to health and social care, information and education.”

It goes on to add: “If smoking inequalities were removed and smoking rates were the same for everyone, around 5,500 of these cases could have been prevented each year in England.”

Public health expert Professor Linda Bauld commented: “It’s not a case of just telling people to stop smoking – going cold turkey doesn’t work for everyone. People who smoke shouldn’t be blamed but need support and the right tools to help them quit.

Decades of glitzy packaging and marketing by the tobacco industry and targeting vulnerable groups has led us here…. [but] public health and prevention services play a vital role in tackling these health inequalities.

“Smoking has accounted for more deaths than COVID-19 in the past year. Public health and prevention services play a vital role in tackling health inequalities as well as improving health and wellbeing across England. This has come into even sharper focus since the pandemic, which has exposed where investment in these services has fallen behind.”

CRUK believes smoking has long been the biggest preventable cause of cancer and death worldwide and is known to cause at least 15 different types of cancer, not just lung cancer. It has been broadly supportive of the UK’s approach to encourage smokers to switch to vaping.

The charity’s chief executive, Michelle Mitchell believes that the government has to address funding to make inroads in addressing the problem: “Funding for tobacco control activities in England has been significantly cut in recent years, which will undermine the Government’s Smokefree 2030 goal unless this is urgently reversed.”

Mitchell called on politicians to place a levy on the tobacco industry to help pay for the cost of smoking cessation programmes.

Action on Smoking and Health’s Deborah Arnott added: “This stark differential in cancer rates exists because of the iron chain linking smoking and disadvantage. Around a quarter of those who are unemployed or in routine and manual occupations smoke, compared with fewer than one in 10 working in management or the professions.

“Tobacco manufacturers make extreme profits off the backs of the poor. The time has come to make them pay to end the epidemic that they and they alone have caused.”


  1. Cancer Research UK -

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Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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