On June 9th 2022, Dr Javed Khan OBE released his report on the governments Smoke Free 2030 campaign by making smoking obsolete in England.
This report has received wide spread praise over the content, and he has laid out clear guidelines on what needs to be done for the government to achieve their goal of England being smoke free by 2030, because as it stands, that target is set to be missed unless action is taken.
In this article, I will break down “The Khan Report” and what it means for the future of vaping if Smoke Free 2030 is achieved
The objectives laid out by the government and how they have progressed
Back in 2019, the government made a pledge to make England smoke free by the year 2030, by giving more help to people who want to quit smoking tobacco. The government backed NHS England who promised that every hospital patient who smokes will be offered treatment to help them quit. As well as branching it out to patients seeking help from their GP. But these services would not be possible if it was not for government funding in the vital areas that needed it.
The government also hinted towards a fee being introduced on tobacco manufacturers that would contribute towards funding the above mentioned, and also as a prevention tool towards young people smoking which is ever increasing.
However, within Dr Khan’s report, he has said that unless further action is taken, England will miss the 2030 target quite drastically by 7 years, and in areas of society that are less privileged, it would be 2044 before these pledges are achieved. And the rate of decline of people smoking that needs to be achieved has sky rocketed to 40%
Public support of the government and their plans
Studies have shown that over the last 10 years, public support has grown on whether or not the government is doing enough to combat the rate of people smoking in England and supporting those who want to give up.
However, the number of people who don’t believe the government is doing enough has also grown quite significantly. The number has risen from 29% from 2009 to 46% in 2022.
The Critical recommendations made by Dr Khan
In his report, Dr Khan laid out a series of recommendations, but highlighted four critical recommendations on what needs to be done to keep things on track and achieve England becoming smoke free by 2030. They are listed below, as well as my thoughts on these recommendations.
Increased investment in all areas
Dr Khan suggested a comprehensive investment immediately of £125 million per year to all policies within the Smokefree 2030 campaign to fund high quality and easily accessible support that is needed by smokers to be able to quit. This amount also includes £70 million to fund pre existing stop smoking services allowing them to continue functioning and improving them where needed.
Dr Khan suggests if the government cannot provide this fund themselves, then enforcing the “make the polluter pay” option, by introducing a fee payable by tobacco manufacturers as a levy, or increase corporation tax effective immediately.
My thoughts – I fully agree with this recommendation as suitable investment in the right areas is the key for this goal to be achieved. I personally feel that the tobacco industry levy suggested is a good idea, but sadly unrealistic to see it enforced.
Increase the age of sale
The government must stop young people smoking as a priority, and Dr Khan suggested increasing the legal age for smoking from 18 by one year, every year until nobody can buy a tobacco product in this country
My thoughts – Probably the more far fetched recommendation of all what Dr Khan said and one I cannot fully get behind nor see happening. Increasing the legal age for buying tobacco products to perhaps 21 like the USA would be a good move, just not the constant increase.
Dr Khan stresses that the government must get behind the promotion of using vaping products to help people stop smoking. Whilst he admitted they are not completely risk free nor a “Silver bullet solution” the alternative of smoking is considerably worse than vaping.
My thoughts – It goes without saying, this is the recommendation I am most behind and live for the day that vaping is fully backed and promoted by the government. Whilst vaping is promoted within hospitals and by some GP surgeries, there is definitely room for more promotion and backing by the government.
Improvement of prevention within the NHS
£2.4 billion. That’s the amount that smoking costs the NHS every year. Dr Khan said that the NHS must do more, offering smokers advice and support to quit at every interaction they have with health services, whether that be through GPs, hospitals, psychiatrists, midwives, pharmacists, dentists or optometrists.
My thoughts – I agree with this as well. The NHS is the single most important thing that needs to be protected and bringing any costs down that can help it is crucial. Offering the help at every interaction would be huge and can give people more avenues to try if they can’t get help at a specific one.
Other recommendations made by Dr Khan
Within his report, Dr Khan makes several more recommendations of what could be done to achieve Smokefree 2030. I won’t cover all of them, but have picked out a select few I want to share with you.
Tobacco licenses and abolishment of duty free
Dr Khan has called on the government to bring in a tobacco licence for retailers. This would be to limit the availability of tobacco across the country. And to curb the sale of illicit tobacco product on the market.
Dr Khan also suggests raising the costs of duties across the board on all tobacco products as a way to discourage people to stop smoking if the prices were to rise. He also suggested to abolish duty free cigarettes and other tobacco products being bought back in to the country from holiday makers or overseas travellers.
The introduction of a Swap to Stop service
Dr Khan makes a suggestion of accelerating the path to vapes becoming available on prescription for people who want to quit smoking. Various nicotine replacement therapy products are available on prescription currently, so it would make sense for vapes to join or over take the existing options.
Swap to Stop is a suggestion to be introduced amongst the stop smoking services within deprived communities. This would be a concept of where people can take in their smoking paraphernalia and exchange it for a pack containing a vape, and all other necessary things needed to stop smoking. Dr Khan suggested a mass media campaign could benefit this becoming successful if it were to happen.
Dr Khan also wants the government to begin clamping down on child friendly packaging and descriptions on vaping products, most commonly seen on disposable vapes which are the current trend in vaping to stop young adults smoking as well as under age users.
A suggestion of progress checkpoints by the government is also made, in 2026, 2030 and 2035. Another good suggestion by Dr Khan.
“The Khan Report” as it has been dubbed, is a straight to the point, clear and concise outline of what needs to be done by the government to meet their pledges and plans for England to become smoke free by 2030.
My personal views on this is that it will not be achieved like Dr Khan has said unless some intervention and investment from the government is made.
The future of vaping could only become more secure and stable with the introduction and approval of vapes being prescribed by medical professionals, and more easily accessible to disadvantaged people in specific areas.
Smoking kills people daily, and ruining lives, and the only people who are gaining in all of this is the tobacco industry, but it doesn’t have to be like this forever. Changes can be made and making smoking obsolete can happen as long as the right paths are followed to achieve this and the government fully commit to making smoking obsolete.