UKLCC welcomes a smokefree Britain

The UK Lung Cancer Coalition (UKLCC) wholeheartedly welcomes the announcement by the Prime Minister at the Conservative Party Conference yesterday - to create a ‘smokefree generation’ by ending cigarette sales to those born on or after 1 January 2009. We extend a huge thank you to those in the cancer community and public health who have worked tirelessly to help make this happen. This is a major milestone.

Lung cancer is the UK’s biggest cancer killer, with nearly 35,000 deaths each year.  Over 80% of lung cancer deaths in the UK are causes by tobacco smoking. Lung cancer risk increases with both smoking duration and amount, but duration has the most effect on risk. Therefore, if we can prevent young people from starting to smoke, this will have a significant impact on outcomes, not only in lung cancer but also other cancers, respiratory illnesses, cardiovascular disease, and maternal and child health.  

Since 2005, the UKLCC has steadfastly supported the cancer community’s efforts to lobby for tighter tobacco legislation, with major breakthroughs such as the ban on smoking in public places and cigarette advertising - and the plain packaging campaign. 

Together with the introduction of targeted lung cancer screening among 55- to 74-year-olds with a history of smoking in England, this progressive phasing out of cigarette sales will not only mean fewer people smoke but thousands of lives could be saved from this devastating disease.

However, the Government must also continue to invest in public health initiatives to raise awareness of the dangers of smoking as well as smoking cessation services which have been significantly curtailed in recent years.  We must also acknowledge other risk factors for lung cancer impacting the growing number of never-smoking lung cancers which are often diagnosed at a late stage.


Professor Robert Rintoul and Professor Mick Peake OBE