Smoking causes nearly 1 in 5 cancer cases and more than 1 in 4 cancer deaths each year in the UK. Decades of policy action have steadily cut the UK’s smoking rates to one of the lowest in Europe. But with around 1 in 7 people still smoking, tobacco continues to place an enormous cost on our society and our economy. Last November, the UK Government published its vision to put “Prevention at The Heart of Our Nation’s Health”, recognising the importance of preventing cancer amongst other long-term health conditions. A government policy published, gave an indication of some new and old ways that the Government might deliver on this. And when it comes to tackling smoking, the plan to make England “SMOKEFREE” by 2030 is bold.
The government is on high priority alert to make smoking become a thing of the past. The MPs are working assiduously with government to achieve this intended purpose of contributing towards the United Nations Sustainability Development Goal 3 of attaining Good Health and Wellbeing for its citizens.
To achieve this milestone of ensuring smoke free environment, the leadership have made personal and moral commitment to contribute effectively to bring to finality the intended purpose of achieving this aim of “SMOKEFREE” environment in England by the end of the next decade.
NHS And Local Government Need Support
NHS England has promised that, by 2024, every hospital patient who smokes will be offered treatment to help them quit. But this is not enough. People also need to be offered treatment to quit by their General Practitioners. Smoking cessation services in local communities are being increasingly threatened. The Government must support local councils and authorities with funding to help them pay for vital services that are proven to bring smoking rates down.
Slashed budgets have jeopardised vital public health services. And since 2015, the public health budget has fallen by £700 million. Funding for wider tobacco control measures and stop smoking services have been among the worst hit.
The NHS must liaise with “Stop Smoking Services” which offer smokers a combination of pharmacotherapy and behavioural support. These are thoughtful ways of providing support for numerous patients who are ready to quit smoking. However, ongoing cuts to public health funding have meant that just over half the local authorities in England have a specialist stop smoking service open to all smokers in the area.
Possibility of a ‘Polluter Pays’ Approach
Tobacco companies are responsible for the greatest and most enduring man-made public health epidemic in history, yet they continue to profit from a product that kills one in two people who use it. In its Policy Paper, the Government recognises that charging tobacco companies in France and the USA for the damage they cause has helped to fund some tobacco control efforts, suggesting that the UK may be open to a similar approach. These new Government proposals mention a charge on the tobacco industry. This is something the government has tabled since 2015. It is part of a potential solution to plug the current funding gap for tobacco control.
More than 7 in 10 adults in England said they would support a fee on tobacco manufacturers that could fund stop smoking services and prevent young people from taking up smoking, according to reports commissioned by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH). It is a matter of fairness that the tobacco industry should pay for the damage to health that they have caused says the Government.
Alongside this, the Policy paper also suggests that an “Insert carrying quitting advice” could be included inside cigarette packs. Canada is the only country in the world that does this, the government hope this could discourage young adult smokers from continuing to smoke.
Organisations and companies with an interest in the proposed measures – whether they prioritise public health or not – are now free to weigh to influence how these proposals are taken forward.