Smoking and tobacco use have been studied to elicit negative effect on the normal physiological functioning of the human body. According to the report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2018), it has been stated that smoking causes an approximate death rate of almost 480,000 every year across the United States of America (West and Shiffman 2016). In this regard, it should further be stated that smoking has been attributed to be the root cause of a number of diseases that include respiratory disorders, Diabetes and even cancer. Intake of Nicotine harms the normal functioning of a majority of organs in the human body and reduces the longevity of life. As stated by Statistics on Smoking (2018), smoking causes 90% of deaths related to lung cancer and 80% of deaths are caused as a result of chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (statistics on smoking 2018). Considering the present scenario, research studies reveal that risk of dying on account of smoking has increased over the last 50 years to a significant extent (statistics on smoking 2018). The literary evidences and statistical figures collected from the research studies clearly indicate that smoking has emerged out to be a global problem that requires immediate attention for the maintenance of public health and wellbeing. This paper intends to discuss the impact of smoking on public health in context to United Kingdom. The paper would critically analyze the public health issue using different resources retrieved from research studies and social media and present an elaborate discussion about the impact of the issue on the general health and behavior of the people based at the United Kingdom.
According to Rooke and Amos (2014), it has been estimated that on an average approximately 484,700 hospital admissions take place on account of disorders related to smoking (Mons et al. 2013). Also, it has been mentioned that 77,900 deaths every year, in the United Kingdom are attributable to smoking (statistics on smoking 2018). In addition to this, it should be critically noted that at present, 14.9% of the complete population base of United Kingdom has been identified as smokers (statistics on smoking 2018). Also, 10.8% of the pregnant women at the time of their delivery have been reported to be smokers (statistics on smoking 2018). Cigarette smoking has remained an area of primary concern with regard to public health and wellbeing for the British Government. In order to address the issue, a number of health policies have been formulated with the intention of fostering a population that is physically fit and healthy. Studies indicate the success rate of the policies and anti-smoking campaigns that has led to a steady decline in the number of smokers. It should be noted here that, smoking is legal in United Kingdom with some amount of restrictions which ideally holds true for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland (Levy et al. 2013). The UK government has continuously attempted to reduce the prevalence rate of smoking through public education and awareness campaigns about the negative impact of smoking. It should be noted here that the NHS at present offers free of cost aid to smokers who wish to quit smoking and lead a healthy life. As published by the British Medical Journal it has been stated that Britain’s drive to encourage smokers to quit smoking has resulted in Britain becoming the world’s first nation to have a significant reduction in the number of deaths caused because of lung cancer (Lancaster and Stead 2017). It is interesting to note here that, during 1950s, Britain had the highest number of deaths caused by lung cancer (statistics on smoking 2018). However, by the end of the year 2000, the death rate reduced to almost half of what it had been reported between the time frame of 1950-1965. Also, the present findings state that the number of smokers have gone down from 15.5% as reported in the year 2016 to 19.8% as had been reported in the year 2011 (statistics on smoking 2018). In addition to this, the prevalence of smoking during pregnancy has also reduced from 15.8% as reported during the year 2006 to 10.8%, however, the percentage is still above the national goal of limiting the statistical figure to 6% (statistics on smoking 2018). The rationale employed behind the fixation of the statistical figure to 6% can be attributed to the avoidance o 100,000 new cases of disorders related to smoking along with 35,900 cases of Cancer extending over twenty years which could effectively save up £ 67,000,000 a year related to medical and social cost expenditure (Jha et al. 2014).
It should be noted here that the revolution had been a continuous and a lengthy process that had significantly helped in the promotion of awareness among people about smoking and its ill effect on health. The awareness had effectively been dissipated to the public domain with the help of informative bulletins published on print and digital media in line with positive healthcare policies. Three primary factors can be attributed to have caused the difference that includes age restriction, other restrictions imposed for public well being and introduction of e-cigarettes. With special reference to England and Wales, it should be stated that until 1 October, 2007, the minimum age legalized for the purchasing and consumption of tobacco based products was 16. However, after the Children and Young Persons Order 2007, came into effect the age bar was raised to 18 years of age which significantly helped in the reduction of tobacco consumption among children and young people (Halonen et al. 2014). Also, after the Tobacco and Primary Medical Services Act, 2010 came into being, the legal age for consumption of tobacco within Scotland was raised to 18 years of age (Frandsen et al. 2013). In the same way, the legal age had been raised to 18 in Northern Ireland as well. In addition to this, smoking within closed surrounding and workplaces has been declared illegal since 2007 in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England (Frandsen et al. 2013). Further, the display of tobacco products had been banned in England both within large and small retailer shops. Smoking has also been prohibited in public vehicles that have children as passengers who are under 18 years of age (Halonen et al. 2014). As an alternative to smoking, the UK government introduced electronic cigarettes popularly known as e-cigarettes that have significantly helped people to quit smoking. Electronic cigarettes do not contain tobacco and also does not produce smoke. It has exclusively been launched to help people quit smoking on a permanent basis (Cahill et al. 2013). The results of an annual survey indicates that 52% of the 2.9 million people who use e-cigarettes in Britain has been able to quit smoking completely and now identify themselves as ex-smokers (De Andrade et al. 2013). This clearly reflects the successful attempt of the British government to spread effective awareness among people and reduce the percentage of smokers.
As has already been mentioned that the positive results could only be achieved after creating awareness, it should be noted that that the medium used for disseminating the awareness also played a crucial role. The platform used for disseminating awareness can be attributed to print media that include news papers, epidemiological fact sheets, research studies and healthcare magazines. Also, news reports telecasted on television, radio, social media has helped in providing information to the people about the critical status of the health issue. The perception and attitude of people about a specific topic is largely dependent upon what is portrayed by the print or digital media. The advertisements featuring the utility and advantages of e-cigarettes helped in convincing a large number of people to opt for the alternative and motivated them to quit smoking (Bala et al. 2013). In addition to this, the advertisements and success stories shared on digital media about significant personalities who could quit smoking to lead a better life motivated people to give up tobacco intake (Brown et al. 2014). Also, posters and pamphlets distributed at healthcare organizations and wellness initiatives at workplaces helped in promoting mass-education about the negative impact of smoking on health and motivated a large number of people to give up smoking (Beard et al. 2016).
Therefore to conclude, it can be stated that smoking in United Kingdom had emerged out to be a problem of great concern. The hike in the prevalence of smokers had effectively been reduced with the help of effective health care policies and creating mass awareness about the negative impact of smoking on the physical health of the people. Media played a significant role in alarming the people about the ill effect of smoking and at the same time was used effectively to motivate smokers to quit smoking. With the effective use of advertisements of the advantages of e-cigarettes, the smokers were encouraged to quit smoking. Also, print media in the form of newsletters and informative bulletins was used to educate people about the high number of death rates caused due to cancer and other disorders related to tobacco consumption. Hence, it can be said that media plays an important role in disseminating important information about health issues to the public domain and at the same time create an awareness to acquire positive outcome and effectively resolve the fate of the scenario. Therefore, digital media, print media and social media can be used as powerful tools to acquire mass response and positively address an emerging issue.
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