As Minister for Public Health and Innovation, Nicola is taking forward the Government’s Tobacco Control Strategy, now due to be renewed. The Backbench Business Committee on the Tobacco Control Plan secured a Westminster Hall Debate to discuss the issue and Nicola responded on behalf of the Government.
Smoking is responsible for approximately 78,000 preventable and premature deaths each year in England alone, and nearly 100,000 across the UK. The Government has made significant progress in line with its previous Tobacco Control Plan for England, with falling smoking rates amongst both adults and children. We’ve also seen new legislation passed to protect children from the harm of smoking in cars, and standardised packaging for tobacco aiming to reduce the appeal of the product and give prominence to health warnings on cigarette packaging. In fact, the number of people in England who smoke has now fallen to its lowest level.
But there is more work to be done, and there continue to be variations in smoking rates amongst different social groups and regions. Nicola told the House that the Government wants to embrace developments that have the potential to reduce smoking, and Public Health England’s independent review is looking at the use of e-cigarettes as part of this. Nicola explained that the Department of Health will be publishing the new tobacco control plan, which has tackling inequalities at its heart. This will be brought forward as soon as possible, and the Department is working with experts to ensure the Plan builds on the successes we have seen to date.
To read a transcript of the debate, see here.
Nicola says: I am absolutely clear that our Tobacco Control Strategy must be evidence-led. We have seen significant successes in our tobacco control policies, and as a world leader in this field we must continue to work with others across the globe to reduce smoking prevalence across all populations and draw on the things that we know work to achieve this.