‘Quit smoking’ messages could be added to the inside of cigarette packs under draft proposals being considered by the government.
The inserts would set out the health and financial benefits of giving up and signpost advice and support available to those trying to quit smoking, the Department of Health (DHSC) said.
A consultation launched on Monday and running until October is seeking views on the idea.
Every year around 76,000 people in the UK die from smoking, which remains one of the leading preventable causes of illness and mortality, according to the NHS.
Pack inserts are already used in other countries including Canada and Israel, with Australia announcing its intention to introduce them.
The DHSC said an evaluation of the policy’s impact in Canada found those exposed to the inserts multiple times were significantly more likely to try to give up smoking.
It hopes pack inserts could lead to an additional 30,000 smokers giving up their habit and save up to £1.6bn in health costs.
The consultation is part of the government’s efforts towards its pledge to get smoking rates across the nation to less than five per cent by 2030.
Earlier this year, experts widely predicted the target will be missed without further action and called on ministers to introduce robust measures such as a levy for tobacco firms.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health (Ash), said: “[Inserts] will help deliver not just the Smokefree 2030 ambition, but also the Major Conditions Strategy, as smoking is responsible for all six major conditions from cancer to cardiovascular and respiratory disease, as well as dementia, mental ill health and musculoskeletal disorders.”
Health secretary Steve Barclay said: “Smoking places a huge burden on the NHS, economy and individuals.
“It directly causes a whole host of health problems – including cancers and cardiovascular disease – and costs the economy billions every year in lost productivity.
“By taking action to reduce smoking rates and pursuing our ambition to be smokefree by 2030, we will reduce the pressure on the NHS and help people to live healthier lives.”
Maxwell Marlow, research director at the Adam Smith Institute (ASI), said: “It’s encouraging to see the Department for Health learn from global best practices.
“Government should allow manufacturers to advertise their harm reduction alternatives, such as heated tobacco and nicotine pouches, which have been proven to be both over 95 per cent less harmful and highly effective at getting smokers to quit for good.”
By Nina Lloyd, PA political correspondent