The NHS, local government, MPs and peers stand together to commit to a smoke free future

23 March 2022
3 min read
Published:

At a parliamentary event to celebrate No Smoking Day [1], which took place on March 9, the public health minister heard leading figures from across health and local government affirm their commitment to securing the government’s goal of a smoke free country by 2030.

The public health minister was speaking together with local government leaders and senior figures from the NHS at an event in Parliament hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health to mark No Smoking Day.

Together they relaunched the ‘Local government declaration on tobacco control’ and the NHS smoke free pledge [2] – to reflect the government’s commitment to make England smoke free by 2030 and the new services being rolled out to support smokers in the NHS. These are commitments which local organisations can make to show their support for action to reduce smoking. They have been endorsed by leading national figures including chief executive of NHS England, Amanda Pritchard, and chair of the Local Government Association Community Wellbeing Board councillor David Fothergill. The previous versions have been widely signed by over 197 local councils and NHS organisations.

Bob Blackman MP, chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Smoking and Health, said, “As chairman of the APPG on Smoking and Health I was delighted the NHS, local government and parliamentarians were able to come together on No Smoking Day to pledge their support to the public health minister for the government’s smoke free 2030 ambition. Now it’s time for the government to deliver a ‘tobacco control plan’ containing the bold actions it knows are needed if this ambition, so vital to levelling up and increasing healthy life expectancy, is to be delivered. My parents lost their lives to this lethal addiction, so this is personal; I don’t want others suffering the way I did.”

Councillor Nick Forbes, lrader of Newcastle City Council and the driving force behind the ‘Local government declaration on tobacco control’ and a committed advocate for tackling smoking and inequality, said, “Smoking has taken eight million lives in the UK over the last 50 years, and is killing hundreds more every day, more than even covid. Those deaths are disproportionately from places like the North East, where smoking rates are highest.  Achieving the government’s smoke free 2030 ambition would be a legacy for future generations we could all be proud of.

“However, underfunding of both public health and local government has left councils with impossible choices. I call on my fellow councillors to make smoking a public health priority, and national government to provide the necessary investment to ensure that we can make the lasting difference that is needed for our communities.”

Professor Yvonne Doyle, speaking at the parliamentary event on behalf of NHS England as the medical director for public health, 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. The NHS has a key role to play in ending these disparities. Working alongside our colleagues in local government we will strive to make smoking history in the next decade and help deliver the government’s smoke free 2030 ambition.”

Also speaking at the event was Councillor Alison Todd from Surrey County Council, who quit smoking last year following a diagnosis of lung cancer. She shared, “Tobacco is not like anything else sold in our shops, it is lethal and addictive and its regulation must reflect that. Like most smokers I started as a child and couldn’t stop until I was diagnosed with lung cancer. A stage four cancer diagnosis in your 40s is something no one should have to hear. I feel incredibly passionate about ending smoking and hope that councils and NHS services around the country will play their part so my grandchildren will grow up in a smoke free world.”

Visit www.nhs.uk/better-health/quit-smoking/ to find out where you can get free access to the latest quitting aids, apps, information, one-to-one advice, and local support.

References

[1] Download the films and other visual assets for No Smoking Day here: http://www.todayistheday.co.uk

[2] For more information about the Local Government Declaration on Tobacco Control see here: https://smokefreeaction.org.uk/declarationsindex-html/ For more information on the NHS Smokefree Pledge see here: https://smokefreeaction.org.uk/smokefree-nhs/nhs-smokefree-pledge/