Smoking in Britain could be a thing of the past by as soon as 2030, if a leaked plan from government health experts is to be believed.
Ministers are rumoured to be planning an announcement that urges the public to have either quit altogether or switch to e-cigs within just eleven years, with tobacco companies paying for smokers to get the help that they need to stop.
"The gains in tobacco control have been hard-won, and there's still much to do," reads the blueprint, which has been seen by the Daily Mail.
"For the 15 per cent of adults who are not yet smoke-free, smoking is the leading cause of ill-health and early death, and a major cause of inequalities. That's why the Government wants to finish the job."
It goes on to say that smoking rates in general have fallen year on year, but that some societal groups - particularly manual workers and LGBTQ individuals - are lagging behind the rest of the population.
Wealth is also a major factor in whether a person smokes or not, with 31 percent of people living in council housing thought to be smokers. Those in more impoverished areas are also more likely to smoke, with rates almost ten times more in Blackpool, one of the poorest parts of the country, than in Westminster, one of the richest.
"Tackling these inequalities is the core challenge in the years ahead," says the report. "If we are to achieve this vision of a smoke-free future, we need bold action to both discourage people from starting in the first place, and to support smokers to quit."
It is thought that one of the schemes that may be implemented involves forcing tobacco companies to include information on how to quit smoking in cigarette packaging.
Countries such as the USA and France already compel cig manufacturers to contribute financially to anti-smoking activism, rather than the government stumping up cash from the already beleaguered health service.
Cigarette packaging is already free of all advertising features and includes large, graphic health warnings. Smoking has also been banned in public places since 2007, with the UK now having one of the lowest rates of smoking in Europe.
It is estimated that around 15 percent of the British population smokes, which places the UK behind only Sweden in terms of active smokers. The UK has also seen smoking rates plummet since the 1980s, with less than half as many smokers as back then.
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