Conservative Bob Blackman wanted to know how much funding the Department for Health and Social Care has committed to spend on campaigns to promote the cessation of smoking in 2019-20.
Seema Kennedy, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care, told him that there wasn’t a figure as detailed funding planning for smoking cessation campaigns is currently underway for that financial year. She said that the audited spend will be available at the end of this financial year.
Luke Pollard MP wanted to know what assessments have been carried out on the implementation and effectiveness of the smoking ban in bus shelters.
Again, Kennedy informed the House that nothing had been done in this area.
Anneliese Dodds MP wanted to know what had happened to the Serious Fraud Office investigation into British American Tobacco. It was was opened in 2017 and very little had been heard on the matter since.
The response was handled by Lucy Frazer, the Solicitor-General: “Progress is being made on the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation into allegations of corruption in the conduct of business by British American Tobacco Plc, its subsidiaries and associated persons. It would not be appropriate to comment on the status of a live criminal investigation further at this stage. When it is appropriate to do so, the SFO will publish updates on the status of the investigation on their website [link]."
Paul Farrelly wondered about the potential merits of encouraging manufacturers to reduce levels of nicotine in all cigarettes to reduce dependency.
Seema Kennedy told him: “The European Union Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) sets the maximum nicotine emission level at one milligram of nicotine per cigarette. The United Kingdom transposed the TPD through the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 (TRPR), which came into force on 20 May 2016. The Government will meet its obligation to review the TRPR before 20 May 2021 and will also review where the UK’s exit from the EU offers us opportunities to re-appraise current regulation to ensure this continues to protect the nation’s health.”
Smoking and the nation’s health became lead news recently when the government announced it would be getting all smokers to quit or switch to vaping by 2030. Leaked plans showed that they intended for tobacco firms to be forced to pay the cost of helping people to quit – removing the burden from underfunded and over-stretched local services.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock is due to announce the plans in more detail next week as he releases a Green Paper on the matter. The paper is reported to say: “If we are to achieve this vision of a smoke-free future, we need bold action to both discourage people from starting in the first place, and to support smokers to quit”.