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UCL Policy Research

University College London academics have conducted a cross-sectional population survey assessing the profile of support for potential tobacco control policies

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University College London academics have conducted a cross-sectional population survey assessing the profile of support for potential tobacco control policies. They conducted this because they believe “there is little evidence on the level and characteristics of public support in Great Britain for policies targeting tobacco availability”.

Professors Kock, Shahab, Moore, Shortt, Pearce, and Brown say: “In Great Britain, much of health and social care policy is devolved such that the governments of Scotland and Wales have powers to legislate independently of the UK government. National governments are considering or have already outlined an aim to reduce smoking prevalence to less than 5% within the next 10–15 years. Public support or opposition to proposed tobacco control policies, and the characteristics of support/opposition, can inform and influence the likelihood of implementation of these policies by devolved governments.”

The researchers looked at policies covering the price, promotion, and retail availability of tobacco as a means to achieving the government’s “less than 5%” prevalence target. Plus, the one currently doing the circuit at home and abroad, “to gradually phase out the legal sale of smoked tobacco products as the population ages by making it illegal to sell tobacco to anyone born after a certain year”.

They found

  • There was majority support for requiring retailers to have a license which can be removed if they sell to those under-age and for restrictions on the sale of cigarettes and tobacco near schools
  • More supported than opposed raising the legal age of sale of cigarettes and tobacco to 21 and reducing the number of retailers selling tobacco in neighbourhoods with a high density of tobacco retailers
  • More opposed than supported a ban on the sale of cigarettes and tobacco to everyone born after a certain year from 2030 onward

The team concluded: “Our findings using a representative population survey of adults in GB indicate that policies to restrict tobacco retail near schools, and for tobacco retailer licenses, would receive strong majority from the public if legislated. Raising the age of sale to 21 and reducing the number of tobacco retailers received greater support than opposition, while the opposite was true for the tobacco-free generation policy.

“However, given that a substantial proportion of respondents report having no opinion either way on these policies, there is potential to encourage public support through clearer communication and advocacy for the evidence and benefits of these policies. Moreover, support for tobacco availability policy may grow, and opposition diminish, as future generations grow up without cigarettes.”


Dave Cross avatar

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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