Smoking has long been considered the primary cause of preventable illness and premature death, yet it accounts for almost 100,000 deaths a year in the UK. With quality of life drastically reduced, smoking can cause lung cancer, respiratory disease and heart disease.
Smoking is increasingly under scrutiny and The World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated that the global yearly death toll is currently 6 million, including those exposed to second-hand smoke. WHO have claimed that smoking will take the lives of 7 million by 2020 and more than 8 million by 2030.
The UK in particular has implemented many laws to slowly but surely eradicate smoking due to the devastating health effects. Having banned smoking indoors, this October smokers will be prohibited from smoking in their own cars, in a move to reduce second-hand smoke as well as covering smoking cabinets in supermarkets.
So what’s next?
Cigarettes and tobacco is already hugely expensive and eats up the monthly salary of many without noticing! The price of a packet of 20 cigarettes could now reach £15 by 2020, in a huge push to cut down the number of cancer patients. Tobacco remains the main risk factor for those with cancer, followed closely by obesity. This new measure is part of six health priorities noted in a report by the Independent Cancer Taskforce, set up by NHS England earlier this year. The five-year plan is to focus on prevention and early diagnosis, hoping to save the lives of 30,000 each year. The £2billion project is to reduce the number of cancer patients and ensure more and more people are educated against the threat of smoking.
A packet of cigarettes currently costs around £9.60 on average and with a significant number of people smoking in the UK, around 280,000 people were diagnoses with cancer in England 2013-14 and is expected to increase by 30% in the next 15 years.
NHS England’s chief executive Simon Stevens has pledged that the organisation will be everything to support the measures recommended in the report commenting:
‘The NHS will be backing this ground-breaking route map for prevention, earlier diagnosis, modern treatments and compassionate care’. In addition to the comment made by Simon Stevens, Dr Richard Roope, Cancer Research UK’s GP expert, warned if the NHS did not take action immediately, it would face the ‘perfect storm’ and ‘we’ll be overwhelmed in the coming years with more people being diagnosed with more cancers’.
It is currently claimed that the estimated cost of cancer is expected to double to £13billion in the next five years.
Take a look at some of the recommendations from the report:
- 95 per cent of patients referred for testing by a GP to be diagnosed within four weeks
- An increase in the number of patients given radiotherapy as part of their cancer treatment
- Radiotherapy machines to be ‘replaced and updated in a timely way’
- A reduction in the number of people smoking from 18.4 per cent to 13 per cent by 2020
- An 80 per cent increase in the number of tests for cancer
- Dedicated call system for patients to use if they are concerned about their symptoms and want tests
- Electronic access to test results by 2020
- Transformation in support for people living with cancer, with every patient having access to a ‘recovery package’