Politics & Campaigns

Smokefree 2030

The House of Commons hosted a backbench debate on the government’s progress towards its target of a Smokefree 2030

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The idea of Smokefree 2030 was raised by the government in 2019. At the time, Health Secretary Matt Hancock leaked ideas included the suggestion that the tobacco industry fully funded the cost of getting smokers to quit – something that still hasn’t been implemented. Last week, the House of Commons debated the government’s progress.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health marked No Smoking Day (in March) with an event in Parliament, hosting Local Government leaders, senior figures from the NHS, and the charity Action on Smoking and Health.

The event offered an opportunity for local councils to sign up once more to pledge to commit themselves to implement services and policies to affirm their commitment to securing the Government’s goal of a smokefree country by 2030.

Behind the fine words, the fact remains that the government could and should have done more.

Professor Yvonne Doyle, speaking on behalf of NHS England said: “NHS England recognises that smoking is a leading cause of health disparities responsible for half the difference in life expectancy between the most and least deprived groups in society.

This disparity has been known for many years; Matt Hancock said the tobacco industry would be levied in order to end it. The country is still waiting.

As Deborah Arnott, the chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health recently said: “We were delighted when the Government announced the smokefree 2030 target, but nearly three years have passed and there’s still no plan, no investment and, on current trends, no chance of success. The tobacco control budget has been cut by a third since 2015. It doesn’t make any sense. To achieve a smokefree 2030 requires a massive increase in the rate of decline.”

During last week’s debate, Bob Blackman MP informed the House that there is an urgent need for more direct funding from Government. He reiterated the need for a ‘polluter pays’ levy from the tobacco industry.

Mary Kelly Foy MP pointed out the government’s lack of progress, insisting that the Department of Health must deliver its Tobacco Control Plan within 3 months following the publication of Javed Khan’s independent review.

Alex Cunningham MP, pointed to the vast profits being made by the tobacco industry and reiterated the need for the Government place a levy “to pay for the damage they do.” 

Liz Twist MP demanded more help for pregnant women and people with mental health conditions.

Andrew Gwynne MP responded in his position as Shadow Public Health Minister to speak for Labour. He told the government that if they brought forward “a robust tobacco control plan” it would receive Labour’s strong support. He said the Secretary of State for Health must set out a timeline for the publication of the Tobacco Control Plan.

Public Health Minister Maggie Throup MP responded for the government as Sajid Javid was not present. She made a number of statements, but this administration will be judged by what it does not what it promises to do. It has been made aware of changes to the vaping legislation that would cost nothing and promote switching – the ball is in their court.

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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