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New plans to stub out smoking

9th March 2011

New ambitions to tackle the substantial public health harms from tobacco were announced today on No Smoking Day by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.

The Government has published Healthy Lives, Healthy People: A Tobacco Control Plan for England which sets out how tobacco control will be delivered over the next five years.

Local communities will take a leading role in reducing smoking rates. The plan confirms action to end eye catching tobacco displays in shops which encourage young people to start smoking.

Andrew Lansley said:

“Smoking is undeniably one of the biggest and most stubborn challenges in public health. Over eight million people in England still smoke and it causes more than 80,000 deaths each year.

“Smoking affects the health of smokers and their families. My ambition is to reduce smoking rates faster over the next five years than has been achieved in the past five years.

“We want to do everything we can to help people to choose to stop smoking and encourage young people not to start smoking in the first place.  We will help local communities to take a comprehensive approach to reducing smoking so we can change social attitudes to smoking.”

The Tobacco Control Plan has three national ambitions to reduce smoking rates in England by the end of 2015:

  • From 21.2 per cent to 18.5 per cent or less among adults;
  • From 15 per cent to 12 per cent or less among 15 year olds; and
  • From 14 per cent to 11 per cent or less among pregnant mothers.

These ambitions represent reductions in smoking rates that exceed the reductions we have seen in the past five years. The Government has set out key actions in the following six areas:

  • stopping the promotion of tobacco;
  • making tobacco less affordable;
  • effective regulation of tobacco products;
  • helping tobacco users to quit;
  • reducing exposure to secondhand smoke; and
  • effective communications for tobacco control.

Within the plan, the Government sets out actions to maximise the use of information and intelligence to support tobacco control activities. It also explains how tobacco control policies will be protected from vested interests.

Legislation to end the display of tobacco in shops will be implemented. While preserving the expected health benefits, the implementation of the legislation will be delayed and amended to reduce the impact on retailers, especially small businesses.

The amended regulations will mean that:

  • The display of tobacco products in shops will end. Tobacco products will need to be out of sight in shops, except for temporary displays in certain limited circumstances;
  • Shopkeepers will have greater flexibility so that they can more easily carry out the day to day running of their businesses without breaching the law – for example, being able to undertake stock-taking or maintenance work while there are customers
  • in the shop;
  • The size of the display allowed while serving customers or carrying out the other authorised activities  will increase from 0.75 to 1.5 square metres; and
    Retailers will have additional time to prepare – particularly small shops. The regulations will commence on 6 April 2012 for large stores and 6 April 2015 for all other shops.

Professor Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer for England, said:

“Nearly all adult smokers started smoking before they turned 18 and every year, over 300,000 children under 16 try smoking.

“I strongly support the ending of tobacco displays in shops. We cannot ignore the targeting of young people through these displays that encourage and recruit them to start smoking at an age when they are less able to make an informed choice.

“I also welcome the commitment by the Government to look further at tobacco packaging and to consider whether a requirement for plain packaging might bring additional public health benefits, all of which keep up the essential momentum needed to create a truly smokefree future.

“The measures announced today will help reduce smoking rates, protect children from being tempted to start smoking and help adults who are trying to quit.”

On plain packaging, the Government has an open mind and wants to hear views. The Government will consult on options to reduce the promotional impact of tobacco packaging, including plain packaging, and an assessment of the impact of these options, before the end of 2011.

 

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