Department Of Health
- Government today bought together members of the Smokefree Action Coalition to discuss historic new legislation to protect future generations of young people
- Organisations also discussed how to support plans to tackle youth vaping while ensuring they remain available to help adult smokers quit
Charities, academics, health leaders, local government and medical royal colleges met with government today and voiced their support for the governments plans to create a smokefree generation.
The Prime Minister recently announced plans to introduce a historic new law to stop children who turn 14 this year or younger from ever legally being sold cigarettes in England.
Public Health Minister Neil OBrien and the Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Sir Chris Whitty, today hosted a roundtable bringing together key stakeholders to discuss the details of the proposed legislation. They also discussed the challenges around youth vaping, and what can be done to prevent children from using vapes whilst also ensuring they remain available to adult smokers as a quit aid.
Public Health Minister Neil OBrien said:
Smoking kills, and this government is committed to taking action to protect a generation of children from ever experiencing the harms associated with tobacco.
Working with our stakeholders to deliver this historic legislation will be vital, and I will continue to engage with these organisations to create legislation that prioritises the health of the next generation.
Attendees included members of the Smokefree Action Coalition, a group of over 300 organisations across the UK committed to ending smoking. The coalition is coordinated by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH).
Smoking is the UKs biggest preventable killer causing around 1 in 4 cancer deaths and 64,000 deaths in England alone costing the economy and wider society 17 billion each year.
Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Sir Chris Whitty, said:
Smoking causes significant health harms at every stage of life including stillbirths, many cancers, heart disease, stroke and dementia.
To improve smoking-related ill-health, it is important to both ensure people do not become addicted to smoking and that those who smoke are supported to overcome addition.
Hazel Cheeseman, deputy chief executive of ASH, said:
We believe that enacting this groundbreaking smoking legislation is paramount in our ongoing battle to end the profound harms smoking causes our society.
This meeting was an opportunity to voice our support for the governments plans.
Sarah Woolnough, CEO of Asthma + Lung UK, said:
This is a critical moment for lung health. We will do everything we can to protect the next generation from the deadly impact of tobacco, and to help push through these life-saving smokefree plans.
Mark Rowland, CEO of the Mental Health Foundation and Co-Chair of the Mental Health and Smoking Partnership:
The governments plan to create a smokefree generation could not be more welcome.
Whilst the toll smoking takes on our physical health is well known, it is less well known that it is bad for our mental health, too.
We know from international experience that the sort of approach proposed by the government is highly likely to be effective, so this will be a real step forward in protecting our countrys mental and physical health.
Cllr David Fothergill, Chairman of the Local Government Associations Community Wellbeing Board said:
Smoking remains the leading preventable cause of ill health and mortality in England.
Councils know the devastating harm that smoking inflicts on their communities and the importance of continuing to drive down smoking prevalence.
The goal of a smokefree generation no longer seems out of reach and we want to work with government and others to achieve this.
Susannah Kerr, ?Head of Public Affairs at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), said:?
People who smoke?are almost twice as likely to have a?heart attack?compared with people who have never smoked. Its a deadly addiction which has caused serious illness and death for far too long. The governments plans to create a smokefree generation have our full support.
Professor Sanjay Agrawal, the Royal College of Physicians special adviser on tobacco, said:
The governments proposals to tackle the increase in uptake of vaping among children and never-smokers are a welcome step. This roundtable was a good opportunity to discuss how measures can be implemented in a way that avoids the potential unintended consequence of discouraging adult smokers from quitting.
Since we identified the link between smoking and cancer in the early 1960s, the RCP has been at the forefront of efforts to curb the harms of tobacco and delivering this legislation will be key to protecting future generations.
Dr Ian Walker, Cancer Research UKs executive director of policy said:
This legislation is a critical step on the road to creating the first generation free of tobacco, the biggest cause of cancer.? At Cancer Research UK were committed to working with the government and our partners to get this legislation passed.
The proposed new legislation will make it an offence for anyone born on or after 1 January 2009 to be sold tobacco products. It has the potential to phase out smoking in young people almost completely by as early as 2040.
In addition to discussing the proposed legislation, the government is also taking action to support current smokers to quit for good including by:
- More than doubling the current funding for stop smoking services, investing an additional 70 million a year to expand locally delivered and cost-effective services. This will support around 360,000 people to quit smoking;
- Providing an additional 5 million this year and then 15 million a year thereafter to fund national marketing campaigns to explain the changes, the benefits of quitting and support available;
- Rolling out a new national swap to stop scheme supporting 1 million smokers to swap cigarettes for vapes the first national scheme of its kind in the world.
Last week, the government also launched a consultation on both the smokefree generation and on new measures to tackle youth vaping including proposals to restrict flavours and descriptions of vapes so they are no longer targeted at children.
While vaping is rightly used by current adult smokers to help them quit, the government is concerned by data showing that youth vaping rates have tripled in the last three years.
The meeting was due to be attended by:
- Alzheimers Research UK
- Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
- Association of Directors of Public Health
- Asthma + Lung UK
- British Heart Foundation
- British Medical Association
- Cancer Research UK
- Chartered Trading Standards Institute
- Diabetes UK
- Faculty of Public Health
- Fresh and Balance
- Greater Manchester Health & Social Care Partnership
- Humber and North Yorkshire Integrated Care Board
- Local Government Association
- London Tobacco Alliance
- Lullaby Trust
- Mental Health Foundation
- Mental Health Policy Group
- National Voices
- NHS Confederation
- Richmond Group of Charities
- Royal College of Midwives
- Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
- Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
- Royal College of Physicians
- Royal Society for Public Health
- Spectrum Research Consortium