Press Article: Fresh praised in England’s first ever National Tobacco Strategy to make smoking history for children 01/02/10
Fresh praised in England’s first ever National Tobacco Strategy to make smoking history for children 01/02/10
The new vision from the Department of Health sets out goals to make smoking history for more people, cut the number of children who start smoking and tackle the harm it causes families, communities and the economy.
The North East has seen the biggest decline in smoking in England, from 29% of people smoking in 2005 down to 21% of people in 2008 - a total of around 170,000 fewer smokers.
Smoking nationally is estimated to cost the NHS £2.7bn a year and UK businesses £2.1bn a year through sickness and absenteeism alone.
Key goals in the strategy include:
• Reducing the number of people who smoke down to 10% of the population by 2020
• Cracking down on illegal tobacco, which is already underway in the North East through the North of England “Tackling Illicit Tobacco for Better Health” programme, highlighted as a case study in today’s strategy
• Reducing the number of children aged 11-15 who smoke from 6% now down to 1% by 2020
• Moving cigarettes out of sight in shops and removing cigarette vending machines in the Health Act 2009
• Reviewing the impact of the smokefree legislation
• Further strengthening of NHS Stop Services to encourage and support smokers to quit through the NHS
• Reducing second hand smoke, which is strongly linked to chest infections in children, asthma, ear problems and cot death
Professor Stephen Singleton, the North East’s Regional Director of Public Health, said: “It is good to see that the North East and Fresh has been highlighted in this landmark document as an example of best practice that should be mirrored in other regions.
“Efforts to drive down smoking not only cut the appalling toll of death and ill health, but they are also an investment to reduce the financial burden smoking places on the NHS and the private sector in terms of its cost to businesses.
But he warned: “The public increasingly expects and wants this action. We must continue to maintain our efforts otherwise we will see smoking rates and the harm they cause creeping back up again over time.”
Ailsa Rutter, Director of Fresh, the UK’s first Regional Office for Tobacco Control, said: “Every year, 5,500 people in our region die as a result of smoking – that’s more than alcohol, road traffic and other accidents, suicide, illegal drugs and diabetes combined.
“This strategy shows a continued commitment to tackling what is still the biggest cause of preventable death in this country.
“Smoking is the enemy of the family and it is an issue that unites people across all political parties. I’m particularly pleased that protecting children and reducing child smoking are such key priorities.”
The new strategy was launched by Secretary of State for Health Andy Burnham
Over the past decade, smoking rates nationally among adults have fallen from 28% to 21% whilst smoking among 11-15 year olds has declined from 11% to 6%. This has reduced the cost to the NHS of smoking by nearly £400 million pounds a year.
Councillor Nick Forbes, Chair of the Regional Advisory Group on Tobacco, said: “Tobacco is the only product on our shelves that kills one in two users if it’s used as its intended.
“I fully support the new strategy and the role councils will play. The strategy gives an opportunity to build on the successes we’ve had so far in the North East taking a regional approach to cut smoking.”
The national strategy highlights the role of Fresh Smoke Free North East in helping to reduce regional smoking prevalence in the North East and states:
“The ‘Fresh - Smoke Free North East’ regional tobacco office was established in 2005 to reduce smoking rates in the North East and to tackle health inequalities that are attributable to smoking. In the first two years of its existence, the North East witnessed the biggest regional decline in smoking rates compared with other regions – from 29% in 2005 to 21% in 2008
“The success of Fresh and evidence from abroad suggest that making and sustaining a significant investment will markedly accelerate the rate of progress in reducing smoking prevalence.”
The strategy also highlights the North of England Tackling Illicit Tobacco for Better Health programme, which is co-ordinated by Fresh, working with HMRC and Trading Standards, and aims to cut the supply and demand for illegal tobacco.
In 2009 the Fresh programme won the Gold Medal at the illustrious Chief Medical Officer’s Public Health Awards for its work in tackling smoking. The CMO Awards were set up to recognise teams, people and projects that have made a massive impact on helping to improve public health in England.