One year on, 26% of ex-smokers aged 18-24 say the tobacco display ban spurred them on to quit. A new study of UK smokers and ex-smokers reveals response to Government interventions in this blog article.  The increasing cost and smoking ban in public spaces are the most effective measures.

The tobacco display ban has had the greatest impact on younger smokers in the UK, according to a nationwide study* of smokers and ex-smokers by PruHealth, the health insurer and wellness provider.

Government initiatives – a slow burn for older generations?

Introduced a year ago on 6th April 2012**, the legislation is the reason that over a quarter (26%) of 18-24 year olds gave up and one in six (17%) current smokers have cut down. In contrast, traction among older smokers has been limited with just eight per cent of those aged 25+ smoking less and the habits of almost three quarters (71%) of smokers aged 55+ remaining unchanged. The study also found the trend is echoed among a number of other Government initiatives.

Dr Katie Tryon, head of Clinical Vitality at PruHealth commented: “The younger generation is whom the ban is primarily aimed at so these findings are very encouraging. The key to preventing a future generation of smokers is to try and discourage people from starting in the first place, as the older people get, often the harder it can be to quit.”

Raising the cost of cigarettes was found to have the biggest impact, with 31 per cent of smokers citing this as the most likely measure that might encourage them to smoke less. Amongst younger smokers this increases to almost half (45%).

Currently, the Government is in consultation over introducing plain packaging.  However, the PruHealth study found that again, resistance to this measure increases as age increases; 18 per cent of 18-24 year olds said they believed this would help reduce the amount they smoke, compared to just 9 per cent of smokers aged 25+.

Success across all ages

The most effective intervention has been the ban on smoking in public places enforced six years ago, helping one in five (22%) ex-smokers to quit and half (54%) of current smokers to cut down or try and stub out the habit – with little difference across all age groups. However, a resistant third (34%) of smokers admit it has had little or no effect on their habit.

Dr Katie Tryon added: “Recent legislation has had a positive impact on the smoking habits of the nation, with a combination of measures appealing to different groups. However, the ‘parental’ approach doesn’t always work for everyone – as identified in this study – and sometimes people need other forms of encouragement. Incentivising and rewarding healthy behaviour can also very powerful motivators, and complement existing, more ‘prescriptive’ measures. While focus is often placed on future generations, it is important to remember they are not the only demographic who need guidance and support.”


* Research independently carried out by One Poll via an online survey among a robust sample of 1000 targeted smokers and 1000 targeted ex-smokers across the UK between 21st February and 25th February 2013.

**Ban on displaying tobacco in shops : the regulations came into force for large stores on April 6 2012 and are due to come into force on April 6 2015 for all other shops.


Blog article written by PruHealth


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