In October 2023, a new UK Smoke-Free policy was published by the British government, called the ‘Smokefree Generation Policy’. This action follows a similar approach to New Zealand implemented earlier this year, which is the first country to ban the sale of tobacco to anyone born after a specific date. The proposed new legislation will make it illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone born after 1 January 2009, extending the smoking age by a year each year until it applies to everyone. This could eliminate youth smoking by 20401.
One of the most common respiratory diseases mainly caused by smoking in the UK is Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) 2. COPD is a collection of persistent lung diseases, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis; both can lead to breathlessness, wheezing and chest tightness.
COPD is more common in those over the age of 40 who are current or previous smokers. The possibility of having COPD increases with the number of cigarettes smoked and the length of time smoking3, which means if people start smoking younger, their smoking life will be longer, and they will have a greater risk of developing COPD.
Lung inflammation, scarring, and narrowing of the airways, making breathing increasingly difficult are all symptoms of COPD. As the disease progresses, it imposes severe limitations on daily activities, leading to fatigue and mental stress, and can result in acute exacerbations that require hospitalisation. Quitting smoking or never smoking is paramount for preventing the development of COPD. About 90% of COPD death cases are attributed to smoking4. Smoking introduces harmful chemicals that damage the lungs and airways, making them more susceptible to inflammation and scarring. By quitting the risk of developing COPD is greatly reduced, or the progression of COPD symptoms can be slowed, helping safeguard lung health and overall well-being of individuals. Preventing people from ever buying cigarettes legally could greatly lower the risk of contracting this condition.
One of the most critical aspects of the new policy is its focus on preventing young people from taking up smoking. Smoking initiation during adolescence significantly increases the risk of developing COPD in later life and doubles the risk of premature death5. By restricting access to tobacco products, these changes aim to safeguard future generations from the dangers caused by smoking.
Here at MAC, we are committed to improving the lives of people living with lung conditions such as COPD, by exploring potential medications through clinical trials. If you are aged 40 ‐ 85 years old with moderate to severe COPD and a history of exacerbations, we would love to hear from you; you could be eligible to take part in the latest COPD research with MAC Clinical Research.
This clinical trial is running at MAC clinics in Lancashire, Greater Manchester, South Yorkshire, and Teesside.
To be eligible, you must:
- Be aged between 40 – 85 years
- Be a current smoker or ex‐smoker with a tobacco history of at least 10 pack‐years
- History of 3 or more COPD exacerbations requiring treatment with systemic corticosteroids and/or hospitalisation within the last year
- Other eligibility criteria will apply
Eligible participants may receive up to £850 for their time and commitment, plus reasonable travel expenses will be reimbursed, or transport to the clinic provided. With your participation, you could help yourself and others around the world. Our skilled medical teams will provide you with the highest standards of care and your GP will be kept informed of your participation.
For more information on how you can get involved, please visit our COPD research webpage.
5 University of Oxford – Starting to smoke in childhood is much more dangerous than starting later | University of Oxford