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UK Pancreatic Cancer Charity Calls on Government to Act Upon Khan Review

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The Khan Review was released in June 2022. It was created by Dr Javed Khan OBE on the government’s wish to review the government’s current tobacco policies, the support available for those wanting to quit, and if the government will hit its target to make England smoke-free by 2030.

However, the review did not make for positive reading. It found that the government would miss its target by seven years, with the country’s poorest areas not hitting the target until 2044. Failure to reach this target by 2030 will mean many people will die unnecessarily, and this pain will be hardest felt in most deprived communities.

Around 20% of all cases of pancreatic cancer have a direct link to smoking, and current smokers have a 66% increased risk of being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. However, by stopping smoking, an individual can reduce their risk by 26%, with some research suggesting that the increased risk caused by smoking can almost be reversed on average 20 years after quitting.

Pancreatic cancer is the deadliest of all the common cancers, and anything that can be done to reduce the risk of developing the disease will save lives. This is why in 2019, Pancreatic Cancer Action welcomed the government’s commitment to making England smoke-free by 2030.

To have any chance of making England smoke-free by 2030, radical change is needed to support people to quit and stop new people from starting smoking.

Pancreatic Cancer Action full supports the recommendations raised in Khan Review to help England meet the 2030 smoke-free target. These are direct asks of the government with regards to funding, legislation and policy, including these four critical recommendations:

  • Urgently invest £125 million per year into a comprehensive smoke-free 2030 programme. Options to include a ‘polluter pays’ levy.
  • Increase the age of sale by one year, every year
  • Offer vaping as a substitute for smoking, alongside accurate information on the benefits of switching, including to healthcare professionals
  • For the NHS to prioritise further action to stop people from smoking by providing support and treatment across all its services, including primary care

On these recommendations, Pancreatic Cancer Action’s Health Policy project manager, Joe Kirwin, said: ‘Pancreatic cancer is the fifth biggest cancer killer. Anything we can do to reduce the number of people developing the cancer, we must do, and we must do it now. I’m aware the government is in flux; however, cancer will not wait for things to settle down. I call on the government to keep their promises, fully implement the Khan Review, and take action to save lives today.’

The past week has seen the height of drama in Westminster, with cabinet members resigning from their posts, including the Secretary of State of Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid, who commission the Khan Review. Javid has been replaced by the former Brexit Secretary, Steve Barclay.

As Steve Barclay settles into this new role, the charity urges him and the government to act now, to implement the Khan Review and not allow it to be postponed amidst the upheaval of Westminster. Cancer will not wait for the ‘right time’, so neither should the government to bring these recommendations to fruition. Every day, 29 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and 26 people die from it. This number will rise if no change is made to control tobacco use in England.

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