The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Smoking and Health is urging the U.K. government to use the opportunity provided by Brexit to step up and take its place on the world stage as a global leader in tobacco control.
In its new report, Delivering a Smoke-Free 2030, the APPG makes several recommendations for the Tobacco Control Plan 2021, which the House of Commons was set to debate today.
The recommendations include:
- Funding for tobacco control programs to be secured through a “polluter pays” amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill, forcing manufacturers to pay to deliver the end of smoking.
- Targeted investment to provide additional support to help smokers quit in regions and communities where smoking does the most damage. This includes those in routine and manual jobs and the unemployed; those living in social housing; those with a mental health condition; and pregnant smokers.
- Tougher tobacco regulations to protect children and young people from becoming smokers and help smokers quit, such as putting health warnings on cigarettes and raising the age of sale to 21.
“Our report sets out measures, which will put us on track to achieve the government’s ambition to end smoking by 2030, but they can’t be delivered without funding,” said MP Bob Blackman, chairman of the APPG, in a statement. “Tobacco manufacturers make extreme profits selling highly addictive, lethal products while government coffers are bare because of Covid-19. The manufacturers have the money; they should be made to pay to end the epidemic.”
APPG Vice Chair Mary Kelly Foy, who represents the City of Durham, said, “I’m an MP from the North East, the poorest region in the country where smoking rates have historically been high. That’s why, although we’ve made good progress in recent years, we still suffer disproportionately from disease, disability and death caused by smoking. The APPG report recommendations will sever the ‘iron chain’ linking smoking and disadvantage. They are essential if we are to build back fairer and level up communities like my own.”
“We all applauded when the government announced its ambition for a smoke-free 2030,” said Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health. “But that was two years ago; the time has now come to deliver.”