Parliament

Posted 7th December 2021 by Dave Cross
Questions about tobacco harm reduction and a debate surrounding the Tobacco Control Plan have been conducted in Parliament. Alexander Stafford MP asked about the meeting of targets, Baroness Merron pressed for further outdoor restrictions, while Bob Blackman MP and Mary Kelly Foy MP supported further restrictions on vaping.

Rother Valley’s Alexander Stafford asked the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care how many of the 94 key milestones of the Tobacco Control Delivery Plan 2017-22 have been met which had delivery dates by 31 December 2021 .

Maggie Throup, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care told him: “Progress on the current Tobacco Control Delivery Plan was reviewed in June 2021. This review found that there are 82 key milestones with a delivery date by 31 December 2021. Of these, 54 were already complete with the rest making progress although COVID-19 has affected delivery in some cases.”

Stafford followed by asking how many of the 20 key milestones of the Tobacco Control Delivery Plan due for delivery annually will have been delivered in two or more succeeding years by 31 December 2021.

Throup responded: “There are 26 milestones with a delivery date which states that delivery should be completed annually. Of these deliverables, the review found that all had been delivered in two or more.”

Finally, Alexander Stafford wanted to know whether the testing of menthol cigarettes has been carried out, if that investigation is on track for completion by the end of this year, and when the outcome of the investigation would be announced.

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The Office for Health Improvements and Disparities' testing of selected tobacco products, as part of the Department's investigation of possible breaches of the prohibition of menthol cigarettes, is ongoing. It is expected to continue into early 2022,” said Maggie Throup.

Baroness Merron, Shadow spokesperson for Health and Social Care, pressed the Government on what plans they have to introduce rules on smoke-free pavements outside pubs and restaurants.

This subject has caused concern in the past as local prohibitions have been extended to vaping. Previously, the Government refused to implement a national ban despite pressure from the likes of Action on Smoking and Health. The reply indicates a U-turn is in the offing.

Lord Greenhalgh, Minister of State, Home Office and Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities, said: “The temporary pavement licence provisions introduced in the Business and Planning Act 2020 and subsequently extended have a national smoke-free condition requiring businesses to provide seating where smoking is not permitted. Local authorities can attach their own conditions, including those that prohibit smoking entirely.

“The Government has committed in principle to making the pavement licensing permanent and will provide further details in due course. He is working closely with the Minister and colleagues at the Department of Health. The Government has not committed to how they plan to proceed with this legislation, but it is important to reduce smoking while reviving the economy.”

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Bob Blackman MP, Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health, led a debate to discuss its recommendations for the delayed Tobacco Control Plan.

Blackman urged to Government to include the APPG’s recommendation to implement a “polluter pays” tax on tobacco businesses and raise the age of sale of tobacco products to 21 – no mention made of raising the age of purchase for vaping products.

Mary Kelly Foy joined in by advocating the inclusion of further health warnings on cigarettes, inserts for cigarette packs, banning “child-friendly e-cigarette branding”, banning all flavours, and banning the free distribution of sample e-cigarettes.

Maggie Throup’s response was to reaffirm a Government approach with “an even sharper focus on tackling health disparities.”


 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, motorbikes, and dog walker
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