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The anti-smoking charity Action on Smoking and Health has sent a letter to Number 10 Downing Street and Wes Streeting calling for the Tobacco and Vapes Bill to be reintroduced in its entirety

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The anti-smoking charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) has sent a letter to Number 10 Downing Street and Wes Streeting calling for the Tobacco and Vapes Bill to be reintroduced in its entirety. ASH’s Chair, Dr Nick Hopkinson tells the new Labour government that this must be done as a priority and that over one thousand other health experts agree with him.

Today ASH Chair Dr Nick Hopkinson and over 1400 health experts call on 10 Downing Street and Wes Streeting to prioritise the reintroduction of the Tobacco and Vapes Bill & the Roadmap to a smoke-free Britain,” ASH posted on its Twitter/X feed on Tuesday 9 July, shortly before the new Parliament convened.

Speaking on behalf of the SPECTRUM Research Consortium, Director Linda Bauld said: “It’s important that the Tobacco & Vapes Bill is reintroduced in the next parliamentary session. Our strong nicotine and tobacco academic community will work to monitor the impact & identify any changes needed.”

The Tobacco and Vapes Bill sought conferred powers on the government to:

  1. make it an offence to sell tobacco products to anyone born on or after 1 January 2009;
  2. bring in measures to reduce the appeal and availability of vapes to children
  3. strengthen enforcement activity to support implementation of the above measures

In addition, it sought to “close regulatory loopholes and protect against future harms of nicotine addiction, the Bill provides powers to extend the scope of certain measures to other nicotine products, such as nicotine pouches”.

The last government claimed: “The call for evidence found that the promotion, display, variety and packaging of vapes is enticing children and young people to start using these products.”

Consequently, it stated it had received support from the likes of ASH for the introduction of regulations to restrict vape flavours, displays and packaging.

ASH’s Letter to Number 10 Downing Street and Wes Streeting

Dear Secretary of State

We are writing to congratulate you on your appointment as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and to welcome your government’s commitment to focus on prevention throughout the healthcare system, to deliver productivity growth in every part of the country, and to halve the difference in healthy life expectancy between the richest and poorest regions. By ending smoking, which is responsible for half the difference in healthy life expectancy between rich and poor, you can deliver on all these objectives.

To that end reintroduction of the Tobacco and Vapes Bill and publication of the Roadmap to a Smoke-free Britain must be front and centre of the King’s Speech on 17th July. This is the firm view of the health community as set out in a letter published today in the BMJ endorsed by over 1,000 leading charities, medical royal colleges, doctors, academics, healthcare workers and public health professionals.

See below for the letter in full and the names of the leading signatories. We look forward to your response and would be delighted to meet with you to discuss priorities for the Roadmap if you would find that helpful.

We urge the Labour government to put reintroduction of the Tobacco and Vapes Bill and publication of its Roadmap to a Smoke-free Britain front and centre when it sets out its priorities for the parliamentary session in the King’s speech.

The last Labour Government launched Smoking Kills, the first cross-government tobacco control plan, a year after coming to power in 1997. This drove substantial declines in smoking among adults and children after two decades when little or no progress had been made.

Yet smoking is still the single biggest cause of preventable death, responsible for half the difference in life expectancy between rich and poor in our society. Labour cannot achieve its manifesto commitment to halve differences in healthy life expectancy between the richestand poorest regions unless it prioritises ending smoking.

While most smokers still start as children, every day 350 young adults start smoking, risking a lifetime of addiction, disease and premature death. Smoking puts pressure on our NHS and social care system, but the greatest financial impact is due to lost productivity. The estimated cost to the UK economy in 2023 was £55 billion, made up of £2.2 billion to theNHS, £18 billion in social care costs, and £34 billion in lost productivity.

Labour backed the Tobacco and Vapes Bill in opposition and in its manifesto. Indeed, phasing out smoking was a policy put forward by Labour before the Conservative Prime Minister introduced the legislation. The Bill already passed at second reading, was scrutinised effectively in Committee, and would have passed by summer recess if the election had not been called.

There is no time to waste. Measures to prevent vapes being marketed to children are urgently needed, while ensuring they remain accessible as an effective quitting aid for adult smokers. We are already three years behind where we would have been if the tough regulations on vaping that Labour tabled in 2021 had not been voted down by the then government.

Britain was the birthplace of the tobacco industry, an industry which killed over 100 million people in the twentieth century and is on track to kill 1 billion in the twenty-first, mainly in low and middle-income countries. The UK now has the chance to lead the world in phasing out smoking. The new government must seize it with both hands.”

The letter was co-signed by:

  • Professor Nick Hopkinson, Chair, Action on Smoking and Health (claiming to represent 1379 doctors, academics, nurses, and other health professionals who have also signed the letter to the BMJ)
  • Sarah Woolnough, Chief Executive, The King's Fund
  • Prof Sir Mike Richards, former National Cancer Director at the Department of Health 
  • Dr Jeanette Dickson, Chair of Council, Academy of Medical Royal Colleges
  • Professor Dame Carol Black, chair, Centre for Ageing Better 
  • Mark Rowland, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation
  • Professor Linda Bauld, Director of the SPECTRUM public health research consortium
  • Dr Chris Van Tulleken, University College Hospital
  • Greg Fell, President of the Association of Directors of Public Health
  • Prof Sanjay Agrawal, the Royal College of Physicians’ special adviser on tobacco
  • Tim Mitchell, President, Royal College of Surgeons of England
  • Dr Ranee Thakar, President, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
  • Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners
  • Dr Ed Beveridge, Presidential Lead for Physical Health, Royal College of Psychiatrists
  • Professor Kevin Fenton, President, Faculty of Public Health
  • John Herriman, Chief Executive, Chartered Trading Standards Institute
  • Sarah Sleet, Chief Executive, Asthma + Lung UK
  • Dr Charmaine Griffiths, Chief Executive, British Heart Foundation
  • Ian Walker, Executive Director at Cancer Research UK
  • Dr Paul Walker, Chair, British Thoracic Society
  • Colette Marshall, Chief Executive, Diabetes UK
  • Jenny Ward, Chief Executive, The Lullaby Trust
  • Duleep Allirajah, Chief Executive, The Richmond Group of Charities
  • William Roberts, CEO, Royal Society for Public Health
  • Dr Clea Harmer, Co-Chair, Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group
  • Dr Andy McEwen, Chief Executive, National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training
  • Professor David Strain, Chair, BMA Board of Science Committee
  • Dr Penny Toff, Chair, BMA Public Health Medicine Committee
  • Alison Morton, CEO, Institute of Health Visiting
  • Deborah Alsina MBE, Chief Executive of Versus Arthritis
  • Andy Bell, CEO, Centre for Mental Health
  • Samantha Benham Hermetz, Executive Director of  Alzheimer’s Research UK
  • Tricia Bryant, Executive Director Primary Care Respiratory Society
  • Ailsa Rutter, Director, Fresh and Balance
  • Dr Sarah McNulty, Director of Public Health for Knowsley
  • Professor Dame Clare Gerada President of the RCGP
  • Emeritus Professor Sir Cyril Chantler, author of the Chantler report
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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